[[quoteright:355:[[ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/CharlieBrownFootball.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:355:[[RunningGag He never learns.]]]]

->'''Sokka:''' Well Aang, because when I'm being pursued by people who want to kill me, I'd rather throw them off by walking through a dense forest than ''fly through an empty sky on a giant freaking bison!''\\
'''Katara:''' That may make sense, but since you're trying to be TheLeader, I'm guessing this is gonna fail horribly.\\
'''Sokka:''' Oh c'mon, [[TemptingFate the writers don't hate me that muuuu....]]
-->-- ''FanFic/AvatarTheAbridgedSeries''

Hooray! The ButtMonkey has finally had [[ThrowTheDogABone something go right]] for once in their unhappy life! And with [[SnicketWarningLabel twenty minutes to spare]], we're sure to see [[TooHappyToLive their new joyful existence play out for the rest of the episode]]... [[TemptingFate right?]]

''That'', right there, is the feeling and painful acknowledgment by the GenreSavvy viewer that FailureIsTheOnlyOption. Why? Because TheWoobie is ''not'' going to get to keep her money and move out of PerpetualPoverty. Film/JamesBond will ''not'' stay HappilyMarried to the [[GirlOfTheWeek Girl of the Movie]] because of the CartwrightCurse. The home that TheDrifter has been accepted into will promptly become a DoomedHometown. WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack will give up the most recent [[AppliedPhlebotinum Phlebotinum]] to return to his home time and SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong in order to save the helpful villagers nearby. [[Anime/{{Pokemon}} Ash Ketchum]] will make it to the Top 4 of the SeasonFinale's TournamentArc only to lose to a random CanonSue who owns OlympusMons. [[ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}} Charlie Brown]] will get [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking the football yanked out from under him]] by Lucy once again just as he's about to kick it. [[{{Animaniacs}} The Brain will see Pinky's bumbling (or his own arrogance) ruin everything just when world domination seems within his grasp]] (yes, this trope applies to villains and [[AntiVillain anti-villains]] too). And deep down, we know it and expect it.

While the permutations are endless, the result is the same: writers Yank the Dog's Chain, keeping [[ThrowTheDogABone the bone]] just out of reach, making even the simplest goals seem like {{Tragic Dream}}s.

Clever writers can cause viewers quite a bit of tension and suspense this way, since we know the good turn can't last and that ''something'' will inevitably come to take it away. Hacks will merely [[FanDisillusionment cause viewers to bash in a new window and]] [[RageQuit abandon a series in frustration]].

A side effect of StatusQuoIsGod. Frequently seen when HowWeGotHere and InMediasRes are used. Not to be confused with ForegoneConclusion. Compare LikeYouWouldReallyDoIt for the "positive" version. Viewers can avoid this if they read the SnicketWarningLabel. Can be considered a sister trope to YourPrincessIsInAnotherCastle and WillTheyOrWontThey. See also HopeSpot and DiabolusExMachina.

Despite how obvious they can be, there are spoilers below, so '''BEWARE SPOILERS.'''

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Advertising]]
* All the Advertising/TrixRabbit wants is some Trix. [[CerealViceReward The kids will never let him have any]], because [[CatchPhrase "Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!"]] (and because KidsAreCruel)
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plmFkZHjt6Y This]] commercial is probably the most cruel instance.
*** That's not so bad. He could just go out and buy more milk later. Unless those little bastards also keep him from getting ''milk'' too. I wouldn't put it past them.
**** Or break into the house while he's out buying the milk and taking the Trix then.
** There's also the one where the Rabbit dresses up like a kid, ''pays'' for a box of Trix, then the kids (read: little abominations) knock off his hat and steal the Trix.
** And the one where he wins a figure-skating competition for a box, and the kids steal both the Trix AND the trophy.
** There was also one where kids could vote on whether or not the Rabbit could have some Trix. He wins the election and the kids STILL wouldn't let him have any.
** Okay, he did get to have one bowl, but no seconds!
** All this said, there were at least two instances where the Trix Rabbit ''did'' get to have some - both of which happened when the company let kids vote on it, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trix_Rabbit#Marketing_and_advertising and the answer was a resounding "yes"]].
* The TV commercial for the sequel to BattleTanx had the CaptainErsatz of the Snuggles bear from the commercial for the first game get [[WeCanRebuildHim rebuilt after the injuries he suffered]], only to be struck by another tank.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/TriGun'': This happens to Vash the Stampede all the bloody time. The cause of this can easily be traced back to the BigBad constantly holding onto the chain. ''[[BreakTheCutie Hard.]]''
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion''.
** Shinji... poor, poor Shinji. Specific example: That kind, charming young boy without any debilitating emotional trauma who actually cares for you? [[spoiler:He's actually an Angel, and you have to kill him]]. Sorry. As well as mid-series, where he begins to get some confidence, it seems that he has some chance to reconcile with his dad, and he feels in general a bit more like the hero of a giant robot series -- needless to say, it doesn't last.
*** He fares even worse in the ''Anime/RebuildOfEvangelion'' movies. So, he finally managed to find his own reason for fighting, storm back from his TenMinuteRetirement with iron determination, force his mecha to reactivate through sheer force of will, kick mayor ass, save his [[ShyBlueHairedGirl love interest]] from the belly of the monster and actually enjoy an intimate embrace with her, which was probably the first hug he got since his mother's unfortunate death... [[spoiler: ...only to find out that [[NiceJobBreakingItHero he inadvertently annihilated the biosphere in the process]], which means that half his friends and acquaintances are dead by his hands, and that the other half hates his guts for it. Cue his once ParentalSubstitute strapping a bomb to his neck and addressing him as "Testsubject DM-03". And that's only how [[TraumaCongaLine that particular movie starts...]] ]] [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone It probably doesn't have to be mentioned that the revelation of what exactly he did was too much for his fragile mind...]]
** Asuka wakes up from a ConvenientComa in the movie and [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome brings the awesome]] by going into combat within 5 minutes of getting out. She wipes out a whole army, so they send in these 9 [[FanNickname Har]][[EldritchAbomination pies]]. She only has 3 and a half minutes of battery power and a progressive knife against a nearly impossible to break AT Field, They have no pilots (so they can't be incapacitated as easily) and a copy of the best weapon in the series. Asuka wins before she runs out of time. [[spoiler:But the result is [[NauseaFuel really awful]]. She gets [[EyeScream speared through the eye]], her guts ripped open, and ''eaten alive'' while the poor girl is desperately trying to fight back. Then, it looks like it's going to get better as she is [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome STILL ALIVE]] despite having endured all of this. She reaches for the berserker mode button to reactivate the Eva and go back to kicking ass... but then they slice off her arm and [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice impale her repeatedly]] until she dies]].
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'' did this close to the end of the first season: Euphemia manages to talk Lelouch out of his plan to [[spoiler:start a revolt by making it look like she killed him]], and for [[HopeSpot a few seconds]] it looks like there's going to be peace... [[spoiler:and then Lelouch [[PowerIncontinence loses control of his Geass at the worst possible moment]] and accidentally orders Euphemia to start massacring Japanese people. [[NiceJobBreakingItHero Which she does.]]]] Oops.
* [[TheWoobie Lithuania]] of ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'' has this happen to him often, often due to being a HorribleJudgeOfCharacter and also just being downright unlucky in everything.
** [[NaiveEverygirl Ukraine's]] ''entire existence'' seems to be a long line of these.
* Light Yagami of ''Manga/DeathNote''. Several different times, each involving some Death Note GambitRoulette. Though frankly, [[KnightTemplar his chain can't be yanked hard enough]].
* ''Manga/{{Gantz}}'', so Kurono is freed from the Gantz Room, grown into a heroic, admirable person, and his girlfriend, the woman he loves, has been brought back to life. Sounds nice right? [[spoiler:Except Gantz took both their memories so they no longer remember one another, Kurono is back to how he was pre-Gantz, a cowardly JerkAss, and vampires have sent a kill team after him, and while his memories leak back and he manages to hold his own for at least a little while they succeed in murdering him, but not before showing him his younger brother's severed head first]].
* In ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'', Rika arrives in a Hinamizawa where [[spoiler:all her friends have vague memories of past universes, and where Rika confides in them about how she's going to be killed]]. Due to the episode number that there was no way they could make this stretch the entire series. This didn't make it any less depressing when, [[spoiler: after beating up several of the Yamainu and charging to take over a car, Keiichi gets shot in what would be the first of all their deaths.]]
** ''Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei'' takes this to a new level of dickery: [[spoiler:Rika has successfully gotten to the bottom of the Hinamizawa Disaster, and stopped the BigBad. As the fateful summer finally passes she has just enjoyed a peaceful day at the pool with her friends... And then she's run over by a truck. She awakens back in Hinamizawa. The GroundhogDayLoop is still in effect... And ''this'' time around, all the rules of the game have changed. For one, Keiichi isn't around anymore.]]
*** [[spoiler:She gets better. It was either a dream, a flashback/hallucination to another Rika in another world, or she died and was brought back to the previous world (the one she died in.]]
* ''Manga/{{Monster}}''. If it ever looks like things will be clearing up for any bleak-lifed supporting character in this series, you know something ''horribly wrong'' is about to happen to them. Usually, Johan is to blame.
** The worst is probably [[spoiler:Richard Braun]]. If you didn't hate Johan by that point, you probably did right after that.
** Even poor Roberto, Johan's worshipper and probably the character we least symphathize with, is [[spoiler:snubbed at the end of the series on his deathbed when Johan denies him the right to see the [[AfterTheEnd Scenery for a Doomsday]] that he's so looked forward to]].
* In ''Manga/OdeToKirihito'', Kirihito and Reira finally appear to be on way to Japan having escaped numerous gut-wrenching hardships along the way. There's even another Japanese guy on the plane, [[spoiler:who promptly decides that the bandages Kirihito wears are to hide the fact that he's an Israeli spy, and he calls Arab fundamentalists to sell Kirihito off. Except he isn't. The Arabs decide to kill everyone there for wasting their time, and they're only "saved" because ''another'' extremist group starts attacking the first one. "Saved", as in, now they get to wander around a desert in the middle of nowhere meeting, among other things, a baby that's starving to death]].
* In Chapter 16 of ''Manga/{{Uzumaki}},'' rescue ships arrive to rescue the protagonists. [[http://read.mangashare.com/Uzumaki/chapter-016/page025.html Guess what happens next. Go ahead. Guess.]]
* In the FlashBack episode 24 of ''Manga/XxxHOLiC'', then twelve year old Watanuki makes a friend who can also see spirits. Of course, we know that in the pilot he was friendless and ghost besieged for most of his teen years, so his happiness becomes heartbreaking since we know it can't end well. The friend is ultimately lost to paranormal circumstances in something of a HeroicSacrifice. It's ultimately a HappyEnding because it finishes with his birthday being attended by his four new friends in the cherry grove he met his young friend.
** Unfortunately this appears to be a constantly recurring pattern in poor Watanuki's life. After he's finally learned the value of self-preservation because there are people who care about him, Watanuki has a series of world-shaking revelations that prove [[spoiler: [[ItMakesSenseInContext he's probably not supposed to exist.]]]] And ''THEN'', when it seems like he's coming to terms with who he is, and life at the shop is returning to normal with having to deal with customers and such, his world ''shatters to pieces'' when [[spoiler: he learns that Yuuko, the very person who caused his life to change for the better, is dying and there's nothing he can do about it.]]
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' loves doing this, [[BreakTheCutie especially to poor Orihime]]. Want to fight? Cue dramatic determination followed by the destruction of your attack abilities! Want to get some training? Not a chance, without your attack powers you're useless! You've trained anyways, so now you want to help fight? [[spoiler:Sorry, but if you don't [[SadisticChoice surrender and defect to the enemy, your friends will all die horrible deaths]]! But look, Ichigo's beaten Grimmjow and now all of you can go back... NOT! Guess what? You were kidnapped solely to lure your friends and allies into coming to rescue you so that your home would be left unprotected! And look who's there with his laser-blasting finger pressed against your chest while he scoffs over your speech about [[WhatIsThisThingYouCallLove your heart!]] Oh, hey, seems like you've been rescued again... or the two lurking behind you could be readying for an attack. But look, [[BigDamnHeroes Ishida joins the fray]], and you two are going up to help Ichigo, who you just so happen to be in love with. Well, what do you know? [[TheDragon Ulquiorra]] was waiting for you to show up so that he could blast a hole in his chest! And Ishida? He lost a hand. Wait, Ichigo's back... as a nearly mindless [[TheHeartless Hollow]] with the only goal being to protect you. Plus he just stabbed Ishida because he interfered in mutilating Ulquoirra's corpse, which made him view him as an obstacle in protecting you.]]
** And we mustn't forget that poor Ishida is as much of a ButtMonkey as Orihime is. Hey, you're a Quincy, which is cool, right? Nope! Because {{Shinigami}} killed off most of your clan, including your grandpa! Oh man, you have to fight that scientist dude, so you pull your ultimate technique which [[spoiler:makes you lose all your powers!]] But don't worry, daddy is here to help, except that he has to [[spoiler:shoot you nineteen millimeters from your heart.]] One of your closest friends is kidnapped? Follow the hero blindly into a place you have absolutely no knowledge about! GASP! Another MadScientist has shown up, and you're about to die! Look out, some weirdo creature is attacking Orihime! You try to save her, except [[spoiler:your arm gets cut off!]] So yeah, poor Ishida doesn't have it that easy either.
** Poor [[TheWorfEffect Chad]] also receives this during the Hueco Mundo Arc, as he managed to win a fight against a named opponent by effectively showcasing his new powers. Chad has enough resolve to feel that he will be successful in Hueco Mundo... [[CurbStompBattle until Nnoitra showed up.]] That scene is another strong example that Chad is a Main Event jobber namely on how he can handle nameless {{Mooks}} and secondary named opponents but anytime he comes up against a remotely prominent opponent, well... let's just say he was on the floor for quite a while after that scene. In fact the [=GameFAQs=] Adult Swim Anime board once summed up the scene like this.
-->'''Chad:''' Now that I have won this fight I shall no longer be a jobber!\\
'''Nnoitra:''' LOL, no.
** [[TheWoobie Momo Hinamori]]. Oh, so you want to forever serve the man you practically are in love with? How nice... except oh no, he's suddenly dead and you've just found his corpse maimed and pinned to a wall! And after you try to attack the captain you're utterly convinced that did it, you get arrested! But wait, they found a letter from Aizen, revealing the killer's true identity... too bad that happens to be your childhood best friend, Toshiro Hitsugaya! So wracked with grief, you break out of your cell and try to kill ''him'', only to be knocked out soon after; when you do wake up, you follow him around, go to a part of the Soul Society inaccessible to even captain-level shinigami where you find the person you originally tried to kill, but what's this? He says there's someone who wants to meet you! And standing right behind you is ''your captain, perfectly alive.'' You immediately hug him and start to cry, because you're so happy he's alive and well and-- wait a minute, did he just stab you? Hahahah, guess what, ''you've just been betrayed and the man you idolized was all just a lie''. Have fun being stuck in a coma for the next 40 or so chapters and remaining in extremely heavy denial when you wake up! When all of that's done, you remain out of the picture for a while [[spoiler:until chapter 334, where, hooray, you've made a [[BigDamnHeroes spectacular comeback]] saving Matsumoto, hopefully over the trauma of the whole Aizen ordeal! Erm, not quite: you still refer to him as "Captain Aizen," but hey, you're gonna kick some ass and show every actions speak louder than words, right? Well, not really... despite fending off three Fraccion, you get owned by some freaky chimaera thing and guess what, no redeeming moment for you! ''But lucky you, it gets even better!'' Cue about 60 chapters later and you make a return... except, once again, you've been ''stabbed again'', by -- get ready for this -- ''your best friend, Hitsugaya''. Have fun getting over that one!]] Oh, and did we mention you're one of the most hated characters in the Western fandom, for ''all'' of that happening to you? Yeah, it's really fun to be you, isn't it?
* In ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'', the Jusenkyo-cursed individuals frequently have cures dangled in front of them (especially frequently in some of the anime's filler episodes). For example, one episode has Ryoga and Shampoo using a special "waterproof soap" that turns out to work only temporarily. And then there are the countless times it seems like someone could get a trip to the springs, but then it turns out to be fake, or in one case [[NoSenseOfDirection Ryôga]] gets it and doesn't know how to get there. The most downright cruel example, though, occurs [[spoiler:at the end of the series, when Soun Tendo has secured the last remaining cask of water from "Spring of Drowned Man" as a wedding gift for Ranma. Well, we say "secured", we mean "stole the gift that the Jusenkyo Guide sent as a thank you to Ranma for saving his daughter, with the intention of blackmailing Ranma and possibly Akane into going along with the wedding". Happosai, mistaking it for booze, ''drinks'' it before ''any'' of the several people after it can actually use it.]]
** The anime has one of these that almost might approach the end of the manga in cruelty. [[spoiler:The Jusenkyo Guide comes to Japan because this is a special day, a day in which a certain body of water can be connected to Jusenkyo's base water, allowing it to be turned into an extension of whichever spring is desired. The lucky body of water is none other than the Tendo's koi pond, which means that every cursed person in Nerima can get cured -- even Shampoo, as once the ritual is complete the Guide can freely change the pond from Spring of Drowned Guy to Spring of Drowned Girl or whatever is desired. The episode leads up to the climax of the ceremony, everyone is literally a few seconds away from being cured... and what happens? Ryoga trips and breaks the rope, canceling the spell before anyone can get cured -- and what's more this ritual can't be repeated for another '''thousand years'''. And then the Jusenkyo Guide wanders back home before anyone can think of tagging along, or asking him to send them back some Nanniichuan.]]
* Tsunade, from ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', almost always loses when she makes a bet, but when she wins, she takes it as a sign that something bad is going to happen. She gets on a winning streak while gambling shortly before she sees Orochimaru again, wins the lottery around the time Gaara is kidnapped, and after Jiraiya suggests that she bet all she has [[spoiler:that he won't make it back]], on the assumption that she wouldn't win, [[spoiler:he gets killed by Pain]].
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}''.
** Raise your hand if you were rooting for [[TeamRocketWins James to beat Ash]] in the Hoenn Pokeringer competition. [[spoiler:Poor guy got it yanked by a totally unforeseeable EleventhHourSuperpower, too.]]
** Speaking of Ash, you'd think the writers would give him a good run in a league conference for once, now that [[TheRival Paul]] was repaid his own jerkhood by the Chimchar (now Infernape) he dumped. As much heat as [[StopHavingFunGuys Smogon]] gets for their behavior, they deserve to feel vindicated after [[spoiler:Ash is put up against Takuto, who paves the poor kid 6-2 with a Darkrai and a Latios, the latter of which was a double-knockout alongside Pikachu]]. Fans are screaming DiabolusExMachina, and for good reasons -- [[TheyJustDidntCare are the writers even trying anymore?]]
* Joey/Jou from ''Anime/YuGiOh'' makes a sudden comeback against Yami Malik in their Dark Duel in the Battle City Finals when he pulls out Gilford the Lightning and has him on the ropes. Yami Malik manages to hold out once again, but apparently has nothing else up his sleeve, with nothing left on the field or his hand, so our hero is in the clear, finally about to be the hero for once and save the damsel, Mai, from her [[MindRape fate]], right? Things seem to be looking that way, as the following turn, Yami Malik draws Monster Reborn, with nothing powerful on its own in his grave to stand up to Gilford, including Ra at this point, since that would require a tribute summon to get any ATK points. So he's basically reviving a [[MemeticMutation giant flaming chicken]] with no attack points, except that it turns out that it has an EleventhHourSuperpower that destroys Gilford and, in this very situation, shocks the controller of said monster into death, and... OhCrap. Sure enough, things go as predicted, except that as the smoke clears, our hero is NotQuiteDead, and is good to make another move, with Yami Malik's Ra leaving the field. All he needs is a monster with enough attack to finish Yami Malik off, and he draws Gearfried, summons it, and is just about to declare an attack until... he collapses and as such is disqualified.
* For another ''Anime/YuGiOh'' example (this one from season zero), Jonouchi enters a game show to win a million yen so he can pay off his father's debts. In traditional ''Anime/YuGiOh'' style, the host of the game show is a [[DickDastardlyStopsToCheat Cheating Bastard]], and rigs the game so Jonouchi can't possibly win. Yugi helps out by {{Mind Rap|e}}ing the host, allowing Jonouchi to win the money. Of course, [[spoiler: the check ends up being no good anyways]].
* ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' has a particularly {{Mood Whiplash}}y example: right after the TimeSkip, we learn that [[spoiler:Simon proposed to Nia, and we see her accept via phone]]. Right after we see this, [[spoiler:her Anti-Spiral nature takes over and forces her into a FaceHeelTurn.]] Ouch.
** Then [[spoiler:the Anti-Spirals attack, threatening to eliminate the human race]], and none other than [[spoiler:Rossiu, Simon's NumberTwo in the new government]] goes all WellIntentionedExtremist and uses Simon as a scapegoat since ultimately [[spoiler:Simon defeating Lordgenome is [[NiceJobBreakingItHero what caused the Anti-Spiral attacks]]]]), having him thrown in jail to be executed.
** [[spoiler:The Anti-Spirals refer to this trope as "Ultimate Despair," and their goal is to do this to all Spiral Races.]] [[AvertedTrope It doesn't quite work.]]
** What comes across as the ''ultimate'' example of Yanking the Dog's Chain is Nia dying the ''exact second'' she and Simon were married, especially since it's a series already rife with [[AnyoneCanDie people dying left and right]]. And not only that, Simon, the man who ''broke reality'' just to save her, stands there and calmly accepts her death as saying the dead should stay dead. [[FlatWhat What.]]
* Almost the simplest one of the anime examples, ''Manga/HayateTheCombatButler'''s title character, [[spoiler:meets up with the girl that he's (apparently) loved for the last ten years. You save her from the ''honored spirit'' inhabiting her body. She tells you she loves you too. Things are going to be happy now. No. She leaves you as you tell her you have to return to your master and you're left with the impression that you won't see her again.]]
** Then again, [[spoiler: she]] only told him to do it because he was torn between the two choices presented, and [[spoiler: she knew that he'll come to blame himself for whatever happens after that since it would have been his choice. That's why she made that choice for him, in a rather sad example of IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy.]]
* ''Manga/{{Kaiji}}'' plays this ''brutally'' with [[spoiler:Sahara's death. After making his way across the bridge of death, he finally prepares to open the door to cash in on the price money... Only to be blown off the building by the air compression blast from the window towards a certain death]]. The anime itself is ripe with these moments, but this one moment has to be the worst.
* Upon managing to gather up all the spell fragments, ''Manga/ThoseWhoHuntElves'' will ALWAYS blow it at the absolute final moment, usually due to Junpei and Celia's bickering.
* ''Anime/CowboyBebop'' has an infamous one that is just [[TearJerker brutal]]. With a few teasing hints of her past, [[spoiler: Faye]] suddenly remembers who she is, and where she came from. She apologizes to Spike before she goes, showing she's starting to revert to a more softer side. She's coming home, mirroring herself when she was a little girl and a teenager. She then opens the gates in her flashbacks, but in reality [[spoiler:the entire mansion was burnt down to the foundation. So Faye [[TearJerker draws lines in the sand of where her furniture was]] and looks up at the sky and reflects]].
* In ''LightNovel/{{Corsair}}'', Canale eventually feels like he has a place in Preveza and thinks that Ayace might actually love him and that they can be happy together, and he manages to confront some of his issues from his past. However soon as [[BastardBoyfriend Ayace]] suspects he is going back to Sesaam, he becomes [[CrazyJealousGuy enraged]] and rapes Canale, making him feel utterly betrayed.
* ''Manga/BillyBat'' gives us [[spoiler: Lee Harvey Oswald]] who, because of his IJustWantToBeSpecial nature, gets yanked around by both the Bat and a GovernmentConspiracy to the point where he doesn't have any idea what the right thing to do is. By the end of his arc, it looks like he's done the right thing by trying to live a humble life and allowing [[TheHero Kevin Yamagata]] to [[HeroicSacrifice give his life]] saving [[spoiler: President Kennedy]]. But wait! [[spoiler: Kevin isn't dead, and it turns out the Bat never wanted him to save Kennedy in the first place. JFK is shot, [[ForegoneConclusion as history demands]], the police are rushing into the building, and Oswald is with a girl who saw members of the previously mentioned conspiracy setting up for the assassination. In a BittersweetEnding, the only way to save the girl from being eliminated is to let the police find him and take the fall for the assassination while she makes her escape.]]
* The second half of ''Anime/TigerAndBunny'' starts with things [[ThrowTheDogABone finally looking up for]] [[TheChewToy Kotetsu]]: he's going up in the rankings, his partner actually likes and respects him now, his boss isn't treating him like he's completely expendable, the Sternbild population no longer considers him a joke, and he's seem to have acquired an [[spoiler: unexpected but very welcome boost in his NEXT abilities]]. Then comes the fifteenth episode, where Ben meets up with him and regretfully informs Kotetsu that [[spoiler:the "power boost" he experienced in the previous episode is a phenomenon that occurs in a very small number of NEXT -- just before they start ''losing'' their powers]].
* In ''Manga/GEGoodEnding'', it happens to Utsumi, the main protagonist, more often than he really deserves. Poor guy just can't get a break.
* In ''Manga/{{Bakuman}}'', this happens to the heroes on a few occasions concerning their goal of getting an anime. They manage to tie with their rival Eiji's manga at the height of their first manga's popularity, but Mashiro is hospitalized for overworking, and their manga is ultimately canceled. Their third manga manages to meet the editor in chief's standards, but parental concerns prevent it from getting an anime.
* In ''AudioPlay/SaintBeast'', whether the protagonists will ever succeed is up for debate, but up to this point every time they get a HopeSpot things just keep getting worse.
* In ''LightNovel/HighSchoolDXD'', the protagonist Issei, [[HaremSeeker who wants a harem]] [[ObliviousToLove but doesn't know that he already has one near him]], wants to confess to Rias but can't because of trauma of rejection (he ''did'' get killed by his ex-girlfriend fallen angel after all, not to mention found him boring). [[spoiler: He finally does get to confess to Rias and what happens after that? One volume later, [[OurHeroIsDead he gets killed by]] [[AchillesHeel poison, specifically made for dragons.]]]] It probably won't stick though.
* Erza/Jellal get one at the end of the Nirvana arc in ''Manga/FairyTail'' by means of DiabolusExMachina. After managing to regain his senses after ''eight years'' being BrainwashedAndCrazy Jellal manages to convince Erza, who is relieved to have him back to normal, that he's good again, and even gains the acceptance of her friends. While he's trying to figure out what to do with himself afterword and Erza is attempting to confess her feeling to him he gets arrested for the things he was forced to do while brainwashed, and also sentenced to death.
* Since the main story arc of ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' is Shinichi trying to get himself back to his normal age and the series has yet to end, pretty much any attempt to cure himself will be met with failure. On top of that, every time he temporarily changes back, he ''never'' gets a chance to tell Ran what he wants to say to her. The first time it happens it's entirely unexpected and thus he thought it would be permanent, only to start to change back into Conan right after solving the case he was working on. The next time is even worse, because the prototype cure he's given does keep him in his teenage body even after he collapses in pain (the previous sign that he was changing back). Thus, it really did look like he was cured for good... only to de-age ''again'', two days later.
* This tends to happen whenever something good happens to Yuuko in ''Manga/{{Nichijou}}.'' In one instance, she successfully scores an 80 on a test, a rare feat for her. She's so happy about it she's bragging it about it constantly, much to her friend Mio's annoyance. Before the day is done, however, we learn that the class average was ''92'' points.
* ''Anime/HeartcatchPrettyCure'' has a particularly cruel one. 3/4ths of the way through, Yuri is called to the Great Heart Tree, where she's confronted by the spirit of her fallen fairy partner Cologne. During this time, Tsubomi, Erika and Itsuki is forced to battle the QuirkyMiniBossSquad and the Dark Precure and Yuri, no longer wanting to stand behind in the sidelines, begs to have her powers restored. After returning to action as Cure Moonlight and mopping the floor with everyone, she returns to the tree and it seems that this action just may also return her partner to her. [[spoiler: Instead, he floats back up to heaven, his last words to her being "You really are a crybaby."]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* [[spoiler:Black Adam]]'s entire storyline in ''ComicBook/FiftyTwo'' is one long, tragic, and incredibly cruel example of chain yanking.
* In ''Comicbook/TheKillingJoke'', Franchise/{{Batman}} pleads with SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker to reconsider the death course the two of them are on, making a genuine offer of help... and there's a [[Heartwarming/{{Batman}} panel]], about a panel and a half, where it looks almost like the Joker will accept. The Joker even turns the concept into a joke that has even Batman laughing.
* {{Batman}} reguarly runs on this, in all media - at least from the villains' point of view. Batman just will ''not'' die.
** In the 1960s TV series, the villains ''always'' manage to capture Batman and Robin about halfway through TheCaper, but ''never'' manage to finish them off with their [[DeathTrap Death Traps]]. The Mad Hatter seemed to have finally triumphed in "The Contaminated Cowl" by using deadly radiation to fry the Dynamic Duo into skeletons - but then it turned out the heroes had escaped after all, and had deliberately left behind the skeletons as a ruse.
** "Almost Got 'Im" was the animated episode in which the Joker, the Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and Killer Croc are bonding over their mutual frustration on this very issue. No matter how DangerouslyGenreSavvy they've tried to be, Batman always finds a way out of their murder plots: he has [[CrazyPrepared an unexpected ace up his sleeve]], he manages to [[WeNeedADistraction create a distraction]], he [[AssPull pulls an idea right out of his ass]], or [[TheCavalry another hero intervenes to save him]]. Since "Almost Got 'Im" is told mostly in flashbacks, we ''know'' Batman managed to make it out alive each time, but our WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief still kicks in as each story-within-a-story unfolds.
* In the short-lived Marvel Adventures: ''Comicbook/IronMan'' series, Tony finds out at long last that his father, who drove Stark Industries into the ground and abandoned him and his mother, had been cheated by a business associate and left in shame, but really had loved him. He hires a PI, Jessica Drew, to track his father down. And she finds him, and everything checks out, even memories.... Then it turns out to be a plot by the Chameleon. Later he does find his dad and realizes that he's just as irritating as ever.
* Franchise/SpiderMan has a big support cast, and [[DoomMagnet people keep getting killed]]. Sometimes the writers decide to bring them back. This never works. Possibly the biggest example is when his ''parents'' turned out to be alive again; they'd been killed when he was a baby. They turned out to be robots. Supporting cast coming back from the dead has only "stuck" twice: when the Aunt May who died turned out to have been an ''[[VoodooShark actress]]'', and when Mary Jane, who had been [[DorkAge killed in a plane accident]] because [[SuperheroesStaySingle having a wife restricted Spidey]], was not dead after all. (Cross your fingers for history repeating itself soon, folks.) And then ''Comicbook/OneMoreDay'' happened, because JoeQuesada didn't like the changes that had been made to Spidey since the Silver Age and PARTICULARLY not his marriage to Mary Jane, resulting in probably the most infamous CosmicRetcon of recent years. God damn it.
* Sometimes, the pirates in ''Comicbook/{{Asterix}}'' think they can actually take down the ship they see. Or Can They? Nope! ''They'' are on board. It can be Phoenician, Egyptian, or Roman, but it's all the same.
** That's when they're lucky. If they're unlucky something will make the thing ''worse''. Luckily for them, what happened in ''Asterix in Corsica'' [[spoiler: (they took a job to take three people in Corsica with the idea of robbing the passengers, only to realize in open sea that they were transporting a Corsican clan chief and ''them''. As ''they'' were sleeping they manage to sneak out of the ship, and reboard it when the Corse and ''them'' have disembarked in Corsica... At which point the ship is ''blown up'' by the fumes of a piece of Corsican cheese!)]] hasn't been topped... Yet.
* ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog'' gets his chain yanked HARD: [[spoiler: Just after he gets back together with Princess Sally, not only does the Evil wizard Ixis Naugus return completely sane (thanks to the Chaos Emerald) with Geoffry who was his loyal servant the whole time, but he ends up turning most of the council and the people of the city against one of his friends due to her being BrainwashedAndCrazy a few issues ago. Then Eggman comes back with his brand new battleship of doom; The Death Egg Mk 2. Then during the attack on said Death Egg Sally get KILLED right before Eggman sets off a CosmicRetcon. Then after Sonic fixes it a la his Super Form and prevented her from being killed, she ends being robotized to save the rest of the world. Then after that Sonic gets flung from the Death Egg and is forced to leave Sally behind in order to save the city from one of Eggman's robot. Then after THAT, Ixis Naugus wins over the city by destroying the robot and (unintentionally) healing Bunny's robot part's and becomes KING! THEN AFTER THAT, the Battle Birds and the Babylon Rouges attack the city and blast a giant HOLE in the city in order to activate an ancient artifact. THEN AFTER THAT, when Max and his family try to leave the city Eggman attacks again, his Metal Sonic self-destructs and puts Antione in a coma!]]
* JourneyIntoMystery sets up the possibility of real change and redemption for Comicbook/{{Loki}}, only for him to screw himself over in the end.
* After years of the abuse she watched the Facility put her daughter, {{X-23}}, through in their quest to duplicate the Weapon X project, Dr. Sarah Kinney finally decided to take the girl and run, issuing her instructions to destroy additional embryos created by the project and to kill the project leader, Zander Rice. Just when it looks like Laura will be able to escape with her mother to live in peace, it turns out Rice had Sarah contaminated with the trigger scent. One UnstoppableRage later Laura is a SelfMadeOrphan, killing the only person who loved her.
** It happens ''again'' not long after. After escaping the Facility, Laura turns up at the home of her aunt Debbie and cousin Megan. Debbie knew ''something'' about Laura, (it's implied that she knows Laura is Sarah's daughter, but believes she was the product of a bad relationship her sister was in and that both were trying to escape it) and welcomes her into their home as part of the family. Laura quickly connects with Megan and strikes up a strong friendship with her, and it seems as if she will ''finally'' escape into a quiet and peaceful life with people who love her. Too bad it turns out Debbie's boyfriend was planted by the Facility and calls in Kimura. The three manage to escape her after a trigger scent scare, (Megan had the presence of mind to drag her mother into the shower to wash it off after being exposed) but Laura is forced to send them into hiding and cut off all contact with them to protect them.
** She eventually finds her way to [[Comicbook/{{Wolverine}} Logan]], who offers to bring her to Xavier's school to give her a fresh start and help her cope with all the hell she's been through. And then she's attacked and arrested by Comicbook/CaptainAmerica. Comicbook/{{Daredevil}} even ''lampshades'' this [[WhatTheHellHero by telling Cap that he may have just stolen Laura's last chance at a normal life]]. The poor girl just can't catch a break!
** And yet ''again''. Just as she's starting to find a measure of peace after WalkingTheEarth to find herself during her solo series and then joining ComicBook/AvengersAcademy, she gets [[ComicBook/AvengersArena shanghaied by Arcade to fight other teen heroes to the death for his amusement]]. ''And'' no sooner is she rescued, but she turns up wandering Miami in an amnesiac state after being taken and tortured by the Purifiers. Who, by the way, happen to have a copy of the video Arcade released which quite prominently puts just what the trigger scent does to her on display.
* Happens twice to ''Comicbook/{{Hawkeye}}'' three times regarding his wife Comicbook/{{Mockingbird}}.
** Clint goes to rescue Bobbi's soul from the Marvel version of Hell, only to discover that he was tricked into rescuing [[ComicBook/PatsyWalker Hellcat]] instead.
** Then he ends up in Wanda's reality and they're in a relationship again. Then the world goes to hell, the Bobbi in ComicBook/HouseOfM leaves, Clint finds out that he's actually dead in the real world, then when everything goes back to normal, Clint is restored to life with all the memories of House of M.
** Then came SecretInvasion, when a Skrull ship crashed and revealed a group of the heroes. Most were discovered to be Skrulls, but Clint tested the Mockingbird they found with a question and decided she was the real Bobbi. Then it turned out she was actually a Skrull who honestly believed that she was the real Bobbi, which led to Clint shooting and killing her. The real Bobbi finally returned at the end of the event.
* ComicBook/{{Iznogoud}} occasionally wins... very briefly.
* Every time things seem to be going well for the ComicBook/{{Runaways}}, something always happens to ruin it, whether it's Gert's death, Iron Man's attack on the Hostel, angry people from Karolin and Xavin's pasts, or Old Lace's death and Klara's freak-out. At one point, they finally managed to make a deal to get the Avengers to leave them (mostly) alone... and then Nico and Chase got kidnapped by Arcade...
* ComicBook/AdventureTime: The Ice King in Lich Land. The moment he steps in, he's [[spoiler:reunited with his finance, Betty.]] The following events are akin to a FixFic where all of Ice King's misery and LossOfIdentity are melted away as he exchanges kisses and sweet nothings with [[spoiler:Betty]]. [[LotusEaterMachine Too bad that none of it is real.]]
--> '''Ice King:''' [[http://hippotatomi.tumblr.com/post/59332968769/reminder-that-in-the-adventure-time-comics-finn You're just as real as I--]] *[[spoiler:[[LiterallyShatteredLives Fake!Betty shatters into a million pieces]]]]* [[TheLostLenore --as I remember.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* [[http://www.garfield.com/comics/vault.html?yr=1997&addr=970511 An alarm clock]] induced ''ComicStrip/{{Garfield}}'' into dreaming he was locked inside a pasta factory. Then, as Garfield was seconds away from the greatest feast in history, the alarm clock went off.
* ''ComicStrip/FunkyWinkerbean'': Lisa Moore's breast cancer has returned, but it looks like they caught it in time and she should be right as rain in a few months. Except the doctors mixed up her medical charts: her cancer wasn't in remission and by the time they caught the mistake, it was already too late to do anything but delay the inevitable.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the ''FanFic/TamersForeverSeries'', every time it looks like Takato and Rika are becoming closer, something happens to drive them apart. The ultimate one comes when they finally do get together [[spoiler:then Takato has to leave her behind forever]]. Good thing Takato's an IronWoobie.
* In ''WebAnimation/TurnaboutStorm'', Phoenix finally avoids [[DudeWheresMyReward being paid with an I.O.U.]] when Celestia herself rewards him with a huge haul of money for his work on the case. Cue his excitement turning into distress when he finds out the money is in bits, the Equestrian currency, which would be completely worthless on Earth.
* In ''Fanfic/MotherOfInvention'', when Applejack builds a raft to escape the island - without first unraveling its mysteries - the attempt doesn't fare well.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Scrat at the end of ''WesternAnimation/IceAge 2'', when he goes to Acorn's heaven but is revived just as he approaches a giant acorn.
* ''Disney/{{Pocahontas}}''. Happens way [[ButtMonkey too]] [[TheChewToy many]] [[ComedicSociopathy times]] to Percy. Quite frequently when he is literally [[ThrowTheDogABone thrown bones]].
* Played for laughs in the climactic battle of ''WesternAnimation/{{Shrek}} 2'', where the Fairy Godmother's magic gives Pinocchio about ten seconds to BecomeARealBoy, before a misfire turns him back into a puppet. Sorry, Pinocchio.
* In ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'', Mulan saves the remainder of the Chinese army from the Huns, burying the entire Hun force in an avalanche, ''and'' manages to save herself, [[CoolHorse Khan]], Mushu, Cri-ki, and Shang from falling to their deaths. It's the most she's accomplished after so many screw-ups, and Shang pledges his trust to her. Then, it's revealed that she was slashed with a sword. When she's treated for the injury, she's revealed as a woman. While Shang decides to spare her life, he still is hurt and leaves her on the mountain in disgrace.
* A pretty depressing one happens for [[Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast Beast]]. He and Belle have been growing closer and she clearly has been much more warm towards him than when they first met. After the infamous ballroom scene, he nervously asks her if she's happy with him, apparently readying up to see if she will declare her love for him. Then, she finds out that her father is sick and possibly dying. The Beast chooses to let her go save her father, even though he believes she'll leave him for good and condemn him to never having the curse broken. He then suffers this trope ''again'' in the film's climax, when Gaston is attacking him and he lost the will to live. He suddenly sees Belle riding in to find him, and regains his strength upon realizing that she returned to him. He overpowers Gaston and orders him out instead of killing him, and then he and Belle are happily reunited... only for Gaston to literally stab the Beast in the back. It says a lot about the Beast's general attitude towards life that after all that, he considers dying like that to be a good ending [[YouAreWorthHell because at least he saw Belle again]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/{{Carrie 1976}}'': For once, everything is going great for Carrie at the prom. And then they dump pig's blood on her. [[UnstoppableRage Oops.]] Cue her [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge psychic rampage]].
* Film/JamesBond living happily with Vesper in ''Film/CasinoRoyale''. You just ''wish'' they would somehow pull it off.
** Bond actually got married in ''Film/OnHerMajestysSecretService'', and his CIA buddy Felix Leiter got married in ''Film/LicenceToKill''. The two marriages combined didn't last a day.
* John [=McClane=]'s marriage is patched up at the end of each ''Franchise/DieHard'' movie and broken up by the next one. In [[Film/LiveFreeOrDieHard the fourth]] he's divorced, and it's his relationship with his daughter that needs patching up.
* ''Film/NationalTreasure 2'' uses a similar pattern, although it remains to be seen if it'll continue in the next film.
* Of all the things {{lampshade|Hanging}}d in ''Film/LastActionHero'', this is the only one the film takes seriously.
* The ''Film/{{Saw}}'' movies, particularly the third one.
* In the ''Film/SpiderManTrilogy'', Peter Parker is the poster child for PerpetualPoverty and never seems to be able to catch a break in his personal life or relationship with Mary-Jane.
* ''[[Creator/OscarWilde Wilde]]'': Oscar has it pretty rough in the last 20 minutes or so, what with being imprisoned for 2 years of hard labor just for being gay (because homosexuality was actually ''illegal'' in England back then). Then his wife Constance comes to see him and, guess what? Not only does she ''not'' want a divorce even after he's cheated on her with ''men'' (and lots of them), but [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming she'll let him see his kids again!]] A happy ending for when he gets out of prison! Right? '''No.''' His sentence ends and he learns that [[spoiler:Constance is dead, which not only takes away her, but any hope Oscar has of seeing his two boys again.]]
* In ''Film/TheLastManOnEarth'', Robert finds a dog and is overjoyed at the sight of another living creature. He practically fawns over it, tends its wounds, comforts it when it's frightened, and tells it about the happy times they'll share together. Immediately afterwards he learns it's infected and is forced to drive a stake through it. [[LaughingMad He breaks]].
* ''Film/TwelveMonkeys'': You're not crazy! You figured it out! You're a hero! You... [[FromBadToWorse oh dear. Ohhh dear]].
* ''Film/PsychoBeachParty'': The murderer has been caught, [[spoiler:Chicklet's SplitPersonality has been cured]], romantic stories are all tied off happily, all of that is now behind them as the all live hap-oh god. [[spoiler:It was all a dream as Chicklet is in a mental hospital getting realistically horrifying shock therapy]]... Happy?
* Happens in ''Film/ThePursuitOfHappyness'', when Chris Garner has sold all his scanners and is having a moderately fine life, then the government seizes the money from his bank account for unpaid income taxes, leaving him broke and homeless.
* In ''Film/TheMadMagician'', despite being pushed close to the edge of madness by his corrupt contractor Ross Ormond, Don Gallico is perfectly willing to let the legal system handle their dispute over the rights to his illusions. [[{{Yandere}} Then his wife dumps him for Ormond...]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Happens to Tobias in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}''. His distant cousin has flown in from Africa and wants to take care of him. He can finally have a real family, stop eating roadkill and have a proper relationship with Rachel. He can have a normal life! ''This is awesome!'' No, it's not. That cousin is Visser Three. In morph. He's trying to kill him.
* Happens ''hard'' to Mike Noonan in ''Literature/BagOfBones''. His wife dies unexpectedly, taking their unborn baby with her, leaving him alone and broken, unable even to work. Eventually, he discovers that returning to their summer home in western Maine holds the key to turning his life around, one way or another. Immediately, he meets the young, beautiful Mattie Devore and her daughter, Kyra. Thanks to them, he finally finds purpose in his life. He starts writing again. Mattie even reciprocates his unspoken feelings for her. Romance and redemption are all but certain. [[spoiler:Then, Mattie is murdered right in front of him, the ghosts in his house come to life and try to kill Kyra, Mike gives up on writing forever, and the book ends with him still alone and engaged in a bitter battle to obtain custody of Kyra.]]
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', Arya Stark manages to make several daring escapes from different captors, but is always kidnapped by someone new shortly thereafter. [[spoiler:And she is ''finally'' brought back to her family... just in time for [[FromBadToWorse the Red Wedding]].]]
** Her sister Sansa, after being held captive and abused for a year, is finally going to be taken away by some friendly people to marry a great guy... [[spoiler:Then her captors find out and force her to marry one of them instead, a terribly ugly dwarf. He's actually a decent person, but Sansa hates his whole family because of what happened to her father.]] And now it's apparently in the process of happening ''again''. Stupid StockholmSyndrome GenreBlindness.
** Ramsay Snow is ever so fond of invoking this trope with his [[ManipulativeBastard human playthings]] (when he's not literally yanking them around on a chain like a dog, that is). It's a way of teaching them helplessness and inducing StockholmSyndrome. He lets them think a servant or fellow prisoner has taken pity on them and decided to help them escape... then [[spoiler:he hunts them down with a pack of dogs, kills the confidante, and removes a couple of minor body parts as punishment. After one or two of these, they start panicking at the very ''idea'' of trying to escape.]]
* Marcus Clarke's ''For the Term of His Natural Life.'' The entire book consists of nothing but this and is the most relentlessly depressing book ever. Even at the end of the book, where something finally goes right, [[spoiler:not seconds later he and his love interest both drown at sea]].
* In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban'': Pettigrew's been outed as guilty and is being turned in! They're going to prove Sirius' innocence! And then Harry can leave the horrible, abusive Dursleys and live with his godfather! Everything's going to be fantastic, everything's going fine, and, say, is that the full moon?... and didn't they just learn Lupin was a werewolf?... aw, shit.
* The title character in Charlotte Bronte's ''Literature/JaneEyre'' finally gets to the altar with her employer/true love Rochester when it is revealed that Rochester is already married to a mad woman he's got locked in the attic, and the wedding is canceled.
* In Charlotte Bronte's claustrophobic ''Villette'', the perpetually unhappy heroine Lucy has fallen in love with and become engaged to fellow-teacher M. Paul, only it is revealed ambiguously in the last few pages that Paul [[spoiler:probably died in a shipwreck before they could be married]].
** Charlotte considered this a ''happy'' ending -- for M. Paul that is. Which you may be inclined to agree if you've read the book: [[spoiler:life with a passive-aggressive depressive like Lucy Snow is a fate no man should suffer]].
* ''The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber'' by Hemingway is such an example.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'''s Rincewind has had this happen to him enough times that now he expects it. It has now gotten to the point that if anything good happens to him he will more or less panic until the other shoe drops.
** Wonderfully {{lampshade|Hanging}}d in "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQlt-jCWan8 Run Rincewind Run!]]"
** In continuing to play with it, Sam Vimes believes he doesn't deserve his good fortune and lives in fear of this trope happening to him.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' arguably has several of these (Harry will always be behind on the rent, even if his [[spoiler:secret half-brother]] comes from a rich family; the {{masquerade}} will always go on; Murphy and he will never be a couple, even if they kiss), but there's one really blatant example in the fourth book. Harry's OneTrueLove Susan has been (almost) turned into a vampire, and throughout the book he is deeply depressed and completely obsessed with looking for a cure for vampirism, never mind the fact that all reputable sources tell him it's impossible. While investigating something unrelated, one of the nigh-godlike Faerie Queenes herself gives Harry a DeusExMachina that can supposedly undo any enchantment at all. It's intended for use in the main plot, but Harry hopes to solve his current assignment by some more simpler means and save the DeusExMachina for Susan. [[spoiler:It gets taken from him after five minutes.]]
** Another vicious example came in ''Turn Coat'' for not just Harry. Since the events of ''Death Masks'', Harry hasn't had a girlfriend or any romantic involvement for nearly five years. Then, at the end of ''Small Favor'', he starts dating [[spoiler:Luccio in her younger body]]. They're both happy together, especially [[spoiler:Luccio, because she's spent nearly a century without experiencing romantic interest or a sex drive. Darned wizardly extended lives.]] Then in ''Turn Coat'' [[spoiler: it turns out Luccio was being mind-controlled into being attracted to Harry by the traitor in the Council.]] ....well, ''shit.''
*** In ''Changes'', [[spoiler:after spending the entire book having one bad thing happen after another, it finally looks like Harry and Murphy might get together. Then 20 minutes before Murphy is supposed to show, Harry gets shot dead.]]
*** Interestingly, though, the trope is ''slightly'' subverted in that [[spoiler: it is fairly clearly indicated that this whole, huge chain of disasters was derived in large part from various ''bad choices'' made by Harry, Susan, etc, it could have been prevented...and better choices in the future could produce better results. The Archangel Uriel seems to be trying very hard, as much as he can with the rules that bind him, to teach Harry to grasp this.]]
** The short story "Day Off". Pretty much the entirety of it. Harry finally gets a day off, and is promptly challenged to a magical duel at 1 AM on that day. It goes downhill from there. The whole thing is PlayedForLaughs.
* Mack Bolan, Literature/TheExecutioner, eventually had things going pretty well for him. He's working for the government, so the cops aren't after him all the time, he's got a whole group of soldiers sharing his new mission, and he's got a girl he dearly loves. Then the KGB shoots up his headquarters and blows her to hell.
* The discovery of a later will at the end of ''Literature/BleakHouse'' leads us to believe that Richard and Ada will live HappilyEverAfter. Unfortunately, it turns out that [[ShaggyDogStory the entire inheritance has gone into paying for the long-running court case]]. Although Richard is at last free of his obsession with winning the case, it is only so that he can [[spoiler:[[DyingAsYourself die as himself.]] Overworked and ill, he is killed by [[DeathByDespair the shock of losing the estate.]]]]
* This trope becomes common with the Baudelaires in Lemony Snicket's ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'' series. There are times in the series where it appears Violet, Klaus and Sunny are going to catch a break, but then Lemony Snicket crushes all your hopes.
* The whole point of the short story ''[[http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/villier5.htm La torture par l'esperance]]'' (The Torture of Hope) by Villiers de l'Isle-Adam is that yanking the dog's chain is the most sadistic form of torture.
* Pretty much the B-plot of every Travis [=McGee=] novel, with the exception of the books where it's the A-plot.
* Happens repeatedly to the protagonist of ''Master of the Five Magics'' by Creator/LyndonHardy: each time he risks it all to learn of a new kind of magic, a rival swoops in and gloms all the profits, leaving him with nothing but a clue to the next style of magic-use.
* The whole point of a story by Jerome K. Jerome "In Remembrance of John Ingerfield and of Anne, his Wife".
* Everything will be going well by the end of an ''Literature/AubreyMaturin'' book only for everything to be mediocre ''at best'' by the start of the next.
* ''Literature/TrappedOnDraconica'': Kalak is introduced as the last Leondian and mid-book he discovers that 300 of his fellows, including his sister, survived their kingdom's fall. Shortly afterward [[spoiler: They're all killed and he's the last again.]]
* The evening before Helen realizes her husband is having an affair in ''Literature/TheTenantOfWildfellHall'', she hears two of his friends complaining how "that woman" is civilizing and moralizing him — and she gets an unexpectedly affectionate welcome when she surprises him outside. Then she learns that he thought she was someone else, and "that woman" is the Other Woman.
* In the Literature/BookOfJonah, God grows a plant to provide his prophet shade. Then during that night he kills the plant and summons a hot wind to daze Jonah with heat. It turns out to be a SecretTestOfCharacter; Jonah weeps that the plant is dead, but is fine with letting the Ninevites all be killed, which God finds terrible of him.
* Swedish writer Simona Ahrnstedt does this in her debut novel ''Literature/{{Overenskommelser}}''. Beatrice and Seth, the two protagonists, have what can only be described as a really hot date. Surely they will sort things out now, after eight months of misunderstandings? Surely now Beatrice won't have to marry Rosenschiöld (who's like forty years older than her and treats women like dirt), to whom she was forced to get engaged? But alas, not only does she have a tyrannical uncle. She also has a sadistic sociopath for a cousin, who now makes sure that she's separated from Seth. Cue a whole year of more misery for Beatrice...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''OnceUponATime'': After years of having endless misery inflicted on her by Regina and her mother Cora, including the murder of both her parents, her mother figure maid, being robbed of her rightful throne as well as the chance to raise her daughter, Snow White finally finds a window in which she can fight back against them by turning their own magic against them when she has none of her own to defend herself with, by cursing Cora's heart with a magical candle left behind from her childhood, and then tricking Regina into putting it back into her mother's body, killing her and preventing her from becoming the dark one and murdering the rest of her family. The next episode reveals that the powers-that-be branded her with a black spot on her heart for that act of defense.
* ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'' is a show with this trope as its entire point.
* ''Series/GilmoreGirls'' did this multiple times a season. Every time Lorelai and her parents would be starting to reach some sort of detante or understanding, something would happen to derail it and make them hate each other again.
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'' is full of those. In the mid-series finale of season 4 [[spoiler:they finally make a truce with some Cylons and make it to Earth 3 minutes before the end - and in those 3 minutes it is revealed that Earth is a nuclear wasteland.]]
** Afterward, [[spoiler:Dualla's chain has been yanked enough and [[DrivenToSuicide she shoots herself]]]].
** At the end of season 2, the fleet finds a habitable planet and, under the leadership of [[spoiler:President Gaius Baltar, settle on the newly-named New Caprica.]] Skip forward a year and, although there are some hiccups, things appear to be running fairly smoothly - more importantly, [[spoiler:there haven't been any Cylon attacks in that past year]]. Then...[[spoiler:yep, here come the Cylons. Since the fleet has been reduced to patrolling in orbit, they can't fight off the Cylon ships and Baltar is forced to surrender.]]
* In ''Series/LaFemmeNikita'', the titular character's dream is to be freed from life as an assassin and to continue a normal, happy existence. She often comes across opportunities to escape, but all her attempts fall just out of reach of success.
* ''Series/ICarly'': Freddie wins a competition for a giant locker. He proceeds to do a victory dance of sorts. Then insults Sam. Then they reveal Sam won the competition as well.
* The end of ''Series/{{Blackadder}} Goes Forth''. The Guns fall silent just seconds before they are due to go over the top to certain death and they think the war is over, that they lived through it, The Great War, 1914 to 1917... [[TearJerker/{{Blackadder}} oh damn]].
** 'Course, really, this only counts for poor Baldrick, George and Darling. Blackadder knew damn well the whole while, as would anyone else with a little knowledge of trench life during the Great War. Honestly, it's part of the power of the moment that the audience already ''know'' there's a chain being yanked.
-->'''Blackadder:''' I'm afraid not. The guns have stopped because we are about to attack. Not even our generals are mad enough to shell their own men. They feel it's more sporting to let the Germans do it.
*** Even so, he was trying his best to get out. It just didn't work. The real punch is for Darling, who was at his desk at Command, safely away from the lines until Melchett decided he wouldn't want to miss the "fun".
* Poor old Richie in ''Series/{{Bottom}}''. Just about to finally "Doooooo IT" with a beautiful woman... and he collapses from a medical condition. [[spoiler:And then Eddie and said woman "get bored" waiting for the ambulance to turn up: "Don't worry Richie, she was ''crap'' anyway."]]
* The season 3 finale of ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' has the good guys scoring a major victory after a HeroicSacrifice by a couple of important secondary characters. And then you see there's ten minutes left, and ''imagining'' what's going to happen with Crichton and Aeryn's relationship is painful...
** Let alone the Season 4 finale where [[spoiler:a ship comes from nowhere to blast the main couple after they agree to get married.]] (This also yanked the chain for the viewers, as the show's cancellation had already been announced.)
* In the original concept of ''Series/DoctorWho'', the Doctor had literally no control over the TARDIS, so Ian and Barbara were stuck with him with no hope of getting home. This led to an especially cruel twist in the story "Planet of Giants", in which they land on Earth in the right period, but due to a technical fault with the TARDIS they're only an inch tall and have no way of getting back to the right size without taking off again and getting lost.
** In the [[TheNthDoctor Eleventh Doctor]] episode "The Pandorica Opens", things are going great for Rory. He's been [[spoiler:un-erased from existence]], Amy's finally [[spoiler:remembered him]], and he's about to [[spoiler:turn into an Auton]], but hey, he's fighting it off pretty well. Then [[spoiler:out comes the gun in his hand, and he shoots Amy, fighting free of the Auton influence just in time to hold her as she dies.]] Whoops.
** Poor Rory gets it again in "The Angels Take Manhattan"; he appears to have escaped [[spoiler:becoming a food source for the Angels by creating a paradox]], then instead of immediately getting into the TARDIS (he's been told he and Amy will have to run for the rest of their lives, but it's OK because they've got the Doctor and he has the TARDIS) he [[spoiler:stops and notices his name on a nearby grav-- GONE]]. Oops.
* ''Series/{{Sliders}}'' did a lot of chain-yanking of the heroes' attempts to find their original world, as the characters would arrive on a new world, decide it's home, and then split up, only to discover there's something different (and usually horrible) about it after all. One episode in particular yanked ''the audience's'' chain, as the heroes decide it's not their world because the gate at one character's house fails to squeak as expected. Just after they slide on to continue the search, it's revealed to viewers that somebody ''oiled the hinges'', implying they really were home, but failed to recognize the fact.
** The characters had already decided that this probably wasn't home before checking the gate, after a quick check of newspaper headlines had revealed that [[RealityIsUnrealistic the Cleveland Indians had won the Pennant and O.J. Simpson was on trial for double murder]].
* Often happens on ''Series/FawltyTowers'', but particularly cruel was the episode "Communication Problems", where it seems that Basil has finally managed to come out on top... only for it all to come cruelly crashing down around him ''in the last minute''.
* ''Series/GoodTimes'' lived on this. [[spoiler:The GrandFinale averted it, as one good thing after another finally happened that wasn't undone by the status quo. For once, the title of the show was completely accurate.]]
* Seeing as how nobody is allowed to be happy on ''Series/{{House}}'', this tends to happen a lot.
** But especially cruel was the very beginning of Season 3. For about the first half of the first episode, House is reasonably happy with no leg pain, cane or vicodin. This obviously cannot last so the ketamine treatment starts failing, Cuddy and Wilson don't believe him when he says his leg is hurting again and let him believe that he couldn't save a patient in a {{Jerkass}}y attempt to teach him some humility and by the end of the second episode, he's back to his normal, limpy, miserable self.
** In Season 5, he switches to a new drug and throws away his cane because he's completely free of pain. Wilson and Cuddy (as usual) oppose this because the drug has serious side effects. (House ignores them, again as usual.) But at the end of the episode he decides to stop taking it because his diagnostic skills aren't as good when he's high on methadone.
** The writers outdo themselves in their cruelty to House in the Season 5 finale.
** The end of Season 6 ''may'' rectify this. Considering the above, "wait and see" is the best policy.
*** The trope was then painfully executed over the course of Season 7, driving House even further from happiness.
** A painful example in Season 7 occurs when House refuses to accept [[spoiler:Wilson is going to die]] in six months. When he finally accepts it and begins plans to make the most of the remaining time... he's sent to jail for six months.
* In ''Series/TheInvaders'', a general told David Vincent that his safe contained enough information to blow the invasion plot. It had vanished, of course.
* Savvy fans of Creator/JossWhedon's shows knew, both from seasons of examples and flat statements in interviews that he didn't care to write happy relationships, or ones that worked out well. By Season 6 of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', for example, many die-hard fans refused to rise to the bait of Xander/Anya's wedding because it was obviously not going to end well. (That the majority of the audience was, by definition, die-hard by that point made it more so.)
** Yet another episode (without the romantic entanglement) is "The Zeppo" in which the story focuses on Xander, while what would usually be the "main" plot is seen only briefly. Though Xander does something useful and heroic -- in the face of his characterization up to that point -- by the end of the show [[TheGreatestStoryNeverTold he decides not to tell them]], and happily offers to get them snacks.
** In season 5, there's this one episode where things appear to be looking up for Spike after a year and a half of being mercilessly beaten, humiliated and undergoing pitiful amounts of BadassDecay; his former paramour Drusilla wants him back, and offers him a way to overcome his RestrainingBolt so he can go back to being a badass again. After spending the first two acts dancing with a very alluring Drusilla and enjoying rebuilding his reputation as a heartless asshole, he blows it for himself and ends up losing Drusilla '''AGAIN''', gets dumped by Harmony, beaten into submission by all three of his lovers or former lovers, and is banned from entering Buffys house. Also, his obsession with Buffy is revealed to the rest of the group, who spend the rest of the season teasing and insulting him for it. So much for his great comeback...
** On ''Series/{{Angel}}'', there were years of Wesley pining for Fred. He saw her choose another man over him, banish him like the rest of the cast after his devastating Connor arc, and more recently struggle with possible feelings for yet another man. They FINALLY get together. [[spoiler: For one episode. He then must watch her die, in his arms, pleading for her life. Then the thing that killed her takes over her body and spends the rest of the season looking like Fred. *sigh*]]
*** Only to act like her in situations to manipulate others. She does it well enough that as Wesley's dying, he asks her to lie to him with that illusion.
*** Even when she's blue, Illyria still looks remarkably like Fred and Wesley doesn't really try to hide how much that hurts him.
** Earlier on ''Series/{{Angel}}'', Joss Yanked The Dog's Chain in the season two finale. Everyone survived, they rescued Fred, abolished slavery in Pylea, and made it back to Earth. Everything's happy... until they arrive back at the office, where Willow is waiting to give them the news [[spoiler:that Buffy is dead]]. In the blink of an eye, a HappilyEverAfter ending became a BittersweetEnding.
*** ''Series/{{Angel}}'' loved these. There were teases that Angel would become human again (or close enough) throughout the series, starting in the very third episode with the Gem of Amara, and done quite cruelly in "I Will Remember You", the eighth (made all the worse by Angel rekindling his love with Buffy, only to have to give it up once again when he gives up his humanity). Of course, the ultimate one of these ends up being the [[spoiler:Shanshu prophecy]].
*** Things are finally looking up for [[spoiler: Human!]]Darla--and then Drusilla comes back.
*** Season 3, full stop.
*** For people in the Angel/Cordelia camp, this was ''brutal''. At the end of Season 3 the two decide to confess their feelings for each other, only for Cordelia to AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence and Angel to get dropped in the ocean by his own son. She comes back in Season 4 only to [[spoiler: be possessed]], [[{{Squick}} shack up with his son]], and then go into a coma. She returns again in Season 5, and just when it looks like the two of them will be together, she's [[spoiler: DeadAllAlong]].
** In ''Series/{{Dollhouse}}'', [[PairTheSmartOnes Topher and Bennett get together]] with an adorable kissing scene. In the midst of all that horrible badness, at least these two somewhat insane geniuses get to find some love and happiness togeth[[spoiler:wait what's Whiskey doing with that gun]] oh ''god damn it'' Joss you evil sonovabitch.
*** Averted with Anthony and Priya[[note]]a.k.a. Victor and Sierra[[/note]]. They do end up together.
** ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' has this for the whole crew, but River seems to get it the worst at times. You know you're dealing with this trope when the medical treatments that grant your addled mind some sense of stability and lucidity just drive you into further depression because you're GenreSavvy enough to know that its just going to get worse later on.
* In one episode of ''Series/MarriedWithChildren'', Al thinks he's going to finally break the [[PlagueOfGoodFortune "Bundy Curse"]] when he runs an incredible winning streak with a poker night with a bunch of convicts Jefferson scared up for the occasion. The second he has hope that his good luck throughout the show is genuine ([[GenreSavvy and not the prelude to a crashing fall]]) Officer Dan shows up and informs him that ''all'' of his newly-won cars were stolen, and he winds up even deeper in debt when Kelly's botched motorcycle stunt for a Verminator appearance wrecks Bud's fraternity house, and he gets struck by lightning by the single cloud in the sky on an otherwise perfectly clear night... which just happens to be over the Bundys' house.
** Through most of the episode, Al demonstrated a startling amount of {{Genre Savv|y}}iness by {{lampshad|eHanging}}ing this- stating that the "Bundy Curse" insures that every bit of good luck will bring a greater amount of bad luck the moment that he admits that he had said streak of good luck. (The curse also means that he has to be a shoe salesman.) (And has foot odor.)
** Note that the entire series is basically one long chain-yanking session.
*** ''Married with Children''? Chain-yanking session? DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything
** The two absolute worst ones that come to mind, are when Kelly goes through a TrainingFromHell montage to train her memory to remember things for her appearance on a sports trivia show, but for each thing she remembers one thing spills out. You just know SOMETHING will happen to make her lose a fact. When she asks how the final round works, it removes the factoid for "What man once scored four touchdowns in a single game at Polk High" (Al's crowning achievement in life). Even the audience felt that one! The second worst has to be the series finale, which ended up looking a lot like ''Ranma'' minus the martial arts and form changing.
* ''Series/NowhereMan''
** In one episode, Tom Veil recuperates on a woman's farm and they fall in love. On the verge of abandoning his search to regain his old life, he gets another lead. He hesitates, then takes the lead. She leaves; [[StatusQuoIsGod he goes back on the road]].
** A [[ChristmasSpecial Christmas episode]], had Veil reunited with his family, learning that it was all a mistake and the authorities had been looking for him to testify against the people in the photo at the centre of his drama. It was all an elaborate plot, of course.
** Happens for the last time in the third to last episode. Tom wakes up in a hospital and is told that everything he experienced was a dream and that he had been in a coma. [[GenreSavvy He doesn't buy it this time and is immediately suspicious of everything especially his wife]]
* Often happens in ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' too but everyone knew all too well that as soon as Dean decided he didn't want to go to Hell in "Dream a Little Dream of Me", his fate as Hell's eventual bitch was sealed.
** Shooting [[spoiler:Lucifer]] in "Abandon All Hope". For a few moments it looks like it worked and [[spoiler:Ellen and Jo's sacrifice was worth it]]... And then he gets up. The expressions on Sam and Dean's faces because they thought they'd managed to win.
** It has been generally accepted by the Supernatural fandom that if an episode looks to be giving them something they want, or something good happens to a character, or the preview shows a fun, humorous episode, they should be worried.
* ''Series/PowerRangersRPM''. As Dr K finally begins to warm up to the rangers, she makes a point at the start of one episode, of calling each ranger by name instead of codename as well as expressing the qualities she likes about them... except for Ziggy. Poor Ziggy spends the rest of his screen time of that episode trying to get her to admit that he's not a bad guy and can be useful to the team (as he proves at one point). Finally at the end, as she's giving everyone their debriefing, she walks up to him, smiling warmly at him, clearly about to finally acknowledge his contributions... and the alarm rings signaling another attack.
* Any episode of ''Series/ThePrisoner'' where Number Six gets out (or appears to get out) of the Village (e.g. "Chimes of Big Ben" and "Many Happy Returns").
* This is the foundation for first season finale of ''Series/{{Eureka}}''. After the initiation of a risky experiment, the movie suddenly cuts to a world where the sheriff and Allison are happily married (which any other episode would tell you that it is no more than {{Shiptease}} and love triangle material), his daughter is graduating, Henry, the man who the town constantly relies on, is in charge of GD, the {{Jerkass}} Nathan Stark left town, [[spoiler:Beverly no longer works for the Consortium...]], and most importantly, [[spoiler: Henry's love interest, Kim, is alive and well]]. During the episode the sudden appearance of objects that should not exist in that way gives evidence to something a GenreSavvy viewer would already know, that this was not meant to be. [[spoiler:Turns out that Henry had gone back in time to save Kim after the experiment had gone horribly wrong. In order to prevent the paradox from ruining time, the Sheriff had to stop Henry from saving the life of the woman he loved as well as give up a future in which he and everybody he knew was happy. Talk about a DownerEnding]]. Thanks to this fact, this episode was the equivalent to a HeroicBSOD for most of the characters involved... and caused the mess of agendas and conspiracies that is Season 2.
* This is essentially the premise for pretty much every episode of ''Series/GilligansIsland''. Generic Plot #1 of the show was the castaways find a way to get off the island, but Gilligan screws it up. The only possible reason they didn't [[JustEatGilligan just kill Gilligan]], is that Generic Plot #2 was having Gilligan save them from a MonsterOfTheWeek.
* Many episodes of ''Series/{{Monk}}'' have the title character finally get something good in his tortured existence, only to have it snatched away by the end. Particularly heartbreaking is "Mr. Monk and Mrs. Monk", in which Monk's condition is getting better, but [[spoiler: he ends up watching a woman who had been impersonating his late wife get shot dead]], traumatizing him out of all his progress.
** An example on another aspect of the show is [[spoiler:the people for his reinstatement changing their minds just as the one against finally caves]] in ''Mr. Monk Goes Camping''.
** In one episode, he finally gets reinstated with the police department after taking advantage of an affirmative action loophole. In the end, he voluntarily leaves after realizing he's still not well enough to be a cop again.
* In the fifth season of ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', Hiro finally manages to save Charlie from both Sylar and her blood clot. Of course, Samuel the evil carny comes along and has his own teleporting time master trap Charlie "somewhere in time", and then kills him so he can't tell Hiro where/when she is. Cue one of the most heart-wrenching scenes ever to befall our favorite WideEyedIdealist.
* On ''Series/TopGear'', after Jeremy Clarkson and James May had spent two seasons mocking the forthcoming Dacia Sandero, they finally see one in Romania. May seems somewhat smitten, so Clarkson buys one for him. Half an hour later, a lorry backs into it where May had left it parked, caving in one side.
* This is the basis for many episodes of ''PeepShow'' -- Mark Corrigan ''never'' catches a break. There are long-term chain-yankings like promising relationships that never quite happen (the one that eventually does [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor quickly turns into an embarrassing, resentful nightmare for both parties]]) and episode-length ones, like when Mark's chance at his dream job is ruined by his best friend sweeping in what he thinks is a BigDamnHeroes moment to deliver a long speech about how he has a "wanking disease" (ItMakesSenseInContext) to the prospective employer. Still, that's what happens when the {{Buttmonkey}} is the ''protagonist''.
* On ''Series/{{Lost}}'', Locke finally found purpose in the end of season 4, after spending the entire series in a constant battle with faith. Shortly after, [[spoiler:He started traveling through time, which he could only stop by leaving the island, and dying. But when he does die, we don't feel much because the episode showing it happen has already revealed that the character comes back to life. What made it really cruel was that he never came back to life at all, and instead was just an UnwittingPawn]].
* ''Series/{{Chuck}}''. Every time the poor boy meets someone, it somehow gets yanked away. It can't help having his 'ex' around all the time.
* ''Series/{{MASH}}'' had several of these.
** The first season has an episode where everyone comes to believe that there's been a ceasefire and the war is over. During their "farewell" party they learn the sad news: the war isn't over, and the wounded are arriving.
** Another early episode has Trapper thinking he'll get to go home due to a stomach ulcer, and even getting a farewell party, before being told by HQ that he'll have to stay in Korea and be operated on there.
*** Trapper gets put through the wringer again in "Kim", deciding to adopt a seemingly-orphaned Korean boy with his wife back in the States, then having to rescue the kid after he wanders into a minefield...''then'' having to watch as the kid's mother turns up and whisks him away.
** Season three's finale has Henry Blake getting discharged and finally getting to go home. What happened next was a [[TropeNamers trope-naming]] [[McLeaned moment]].
** In "Welcome to Korea", Hawkeye races to an airport to try and say goodbye to Trapper, who was discharged while Hawkeye was away on leave and couldn't stay any longer. Naturally, despite his best efforts, Hawkeye misses him by minutes.
** In a more humorous example, Klinger comes tantalizingly close to actually getting a Section 8 discharge in "None Like It Hot". He dons a fur coat and other warm-weather gear in the middle of a blistering HeatWave, and Col. Potter is so impressed with his determination that he promises to approve a Section 8 if he can keep it up for 24 hours. When Klinger finally breaks down and gives up toward the end of the episode, a sincerely disappointed Potter notes that he only had an hour left to go.
** In the show's final episode, B.J. receives discharge papers, though they are quickly rescinded. Col. Potter is informed of this, but doesn't say anything - hoping B.J. will be stateside before anyone finds out. Unfortunately, he only makes it as far as Guam before he's yanked back to the 4077th. (However, he does ultimately get to go home - along with everybody else - when the war ends shortly thereafter.)
---> '''B.J.:''' I'm sitting there in this crummy officers club, and this guy comes up to me, and says, "You Hunnicutt the doctor?" Now, I didn't like the sound of that, so I said, "No, not me, pal, I'm Hunnicutt the chaplain." He says, "Well, chaplain, you'd better start praying for a miracle, because you're going back to Korea to do surgery."
* The utterly miserable second half of [[Series/TheSarahJaneAdventures "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith"]]. In the thirty-three years since she left the Doctor, she never found anyone, until now. Even the first half of the story is bittersweet, as it feels too good to be true if her track record is any indication of what's to come; you can tell they're [[StarCrossedLovers star-crossed]]. This doesn't make the ending any less tragic.
* [[PunctuatedForEmphasis Ronnie. From]]. ''EastEnders''. Every single time it looks like she's going to have a happy ending, the producers cruelly snatch it away from her practically going "Neener neener!", be it a potential reconcilement with Danielle being ruined by [[ShaggyDogStory Danielle getting ran over and killed instantly]] or her being caught out when she goes to mad lengths to get a child again. It looks as if recently she's finally having an honest to god child again and all's well... but in true Soap fashion (As revealed in television magazine spoilers), said baby stops breathing and may have suffered cot death barely a day after being born, pushing Ronnie way past her [[DespairEventHorizon limit]]. That is if she hasn't already been punted over it before now.
* Rimmer, TheChewToy of the ''Series/RedDwarf'' universe, is simply ''not allowed'' to be happy. On the rare occasions he's thrown a bone it usually gets stuck in his throat.
** A particularly cruel example: in the episode "Timeslides", a bit of minor fiddling with time restores Rimmer to life. In his joy he starts running around, touching things, eating things -- and slams both fists on two random crates, which then [[MadeOfExplodium explode]].
** He gets GenreSavvy to this in 'Back to Earth' where [[spoiler:when speaking to the writer of the show, he demands he be written a girl who he can fall in love with, marry and after the big night, NOT find out that she's his long lost sister]].
* On the show ''Sisters'', second-oldest sister Teddy is FINALLY happy after years of turmoil that has included a struggle with alcoholism, miscarriage, her daughter's rape, her divorce, etc. Now, she's married to the love of her life, who's had similar problems of his own--alcoholism, divorce, death of his son--and they're preparing to buy a house. He's also preparing to testify against a crime lord (he's a cop).
* Happens all the time in ''Series/{{Oz}}''. The worst case is Beecher, of course. But every character has its moments. It's very painful.
* At least one victim in ''Series/CriminalMinds''. The unsub tells her over an intercom that if she can find her way out of the vast complex he's dropped her in by sunset, she gets to live. She gets literally within ''sight'' of the open door to freedom, but the sun is setting and the door slams in her face before she can get out. [[spoiler: Of course, the team save her anyway, but still.]]
* In Season 1 of ''Film/{{Spartacus}}'', Batiatus finally keeps his promise to find the title character's wife only to [[spoiler: deliver her moments from death.]]
* In ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'', after a season and a half of pining and one weird [[LaserGuidedAmnesia memory-changer]]-induced role reversal, Owen finally agrees to a date with Tosh. At the end of the episode, he dies.
** And of course, once Jack and Ianto are really getting adorable, and we get to see some of Ianto's personal life...[[spoiler: he dies, too.]]
*** ''Torchwood'' LOVES this trope. A few episodes into ''[[Series/TorchwoodMiracleDay Miracle Day]]'' Dr. Juarez decides to officially join up with Team Torchwood. It even looks like Rex might start to take their relationship a little more seriously...[[spoiler: so at the end of the episode she gets shot. Twice. And burned alive. IN FRONT OF REX.]]
* ''Series/{{Merlin}}''. Oh my God, [[TheWoobie Merlin]]. He's reunited with his childhood friend who knows about and accepts his magical powers? He dies. He falls in love with a pretty Druid girl? She dies. At long last, [[spoiler:he meets his [[DisappearedDad father]]]]? He dies. Arthur begins to think that maybe, just maybe, Uther's wrong and magic isn't inherently evil? Merlin has to lie through his teeth and convince him otherwise in order to stop him from murdering his own father. Pretty much every time something significantly nice happens to Merlin, he gets the rug yanked out from under him.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}''
** One episode had Clark finally tell Lana his secret and propose to her at the same time. That was the teaser! She accepts the proposal, Jonathan Kent wins the state senate seat, beating Lex Luthor and everything seems perfect up til the 30 minute mark when [[spoiler: Lana is killed in a car accident caused by Lex trying to get Clark's secret out of her. Clark gets Jor-El to rewind time, ignoring his warning that [[BalancingDeathsBooks the universe would find someone else to die if he saves Lana]]. Clark doesn't tell Lana his secret, Jonathan still wins the senate seat but ends up dying of a heart attack.]]
** Season eight did this to [[TheWoobie Chloe]] all the time.
*** Finally rescued from the HellholePrison after locked in there for three months...[[spoiler:Clark dies in her arms (he gets better, obviously).]]
*** Meeting this friendly, handsome paramedic...[[spoiler:turns out to be the human form of Doomsday.]]
*** Getting married to Jimmy...[[spoiler:only for Doomsday to crash the wedding, kidnap her to be possessed by Brainiac and maul Jimmy half to death. Oh, and she came ''this'' close to dying about three times.]]
*** Clark reveals his secret to the world and she is happy for him...[[spoiler:then Doomsday killed her. Good thing the ResetButton was handy.]]
*** Jimmy is finally getting better and [[TemptingFate she is convinced it is going to be happily ever after]]...[[spoiler:Jimmy divorces her and spirals into drug abuse at the end of the ''same episode''.]]
*** Davis is split from Doomsday, Jimmy makes up with her...[[spoiler:then Davis goes crazy jealous and kills Jimmy. Lois vanishes and Clark abandons her.]]
* Several episodes of ''Series/TheFugitive'' have Dr. Kimble seemingly on the verge of being exonerated, but it always turns out to be a trap or something that otherwise falls apart...until the GrandFinale, of course.
* On ''Series/LandOfTheLost'', the Marshalls come close to returning to their own world several times, but never quite make it. [[spoiler:Well, except for Rick at the start of Season 2.]]
* As a TrappedInAnotherWorld show, ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' did this several times, with a potential way to return to the Alpha Quadrant failing at the last minute or turning out to be morally unacceptable. A notable example had the ship finding a wormhole that was about the size of a basketball [[spoiler:and travelled a fair distance back in time as well]].
** That example was a double one -- while they didn't find a way to use it to get back home, they ''did'' manage to find a way to use it to send a message back home. [[spoiler: Unfortunately, the Romulan scientist that had offered to deliver messages from Voyager at the appropriate time died before Voyager even got lost]].
** Beginning with season five, Voyager DID come across numerous opportunities that promised to shave a few years off their trip, and most of them actually succeed. In season five, They were pretty much able to cut their trip in half, and then they got another 3 year shave off in season 6, as well as being able to establish permanent, two way contact with home.
* In ''Series/AshesToAshes'', just as Alex believes she has found out [[OntologicalMystery the true nature of her world,]] [[PsychologicalTormentZone The carpet is pulled out]] from under her feet. It escalates with every series finale (excepting the [[GrandFinale last]]).[[note]]Being an OntologicalMystery, every time Alex is yanked back so too is the audience.[[/note]]
* In the third season finale of ''Series/PersonOfInterest'', the trailer promises that TonightSomeoneDies and shows Fusco captured by HR and about to be shot. Meanwhile, Reese bonds with Detective Carter, telling her she's the reason he [[spoiler:didn't commit suicide]], leaning in for a kiss and RelationshipUpgrade. Fusco manages to escape his captors, Carter takes down HR, and she and Reese walk down the sidewalk together late at night after getting him out of jail. Looks like you can NeverTrustATrailer after all, right? Right...if all that didn't scream to you that [[spoiler:Carter is about to [[StuffedIntoTheFridge get a good look at the inside of a 'fridge]], courtesy the last remaining member of HR, so Reese can go on a RoaringRampageOfRevenge]], then you [[TVTropesWillRuinYourLife clearly haven't spent enough time on this site]].
* ''Series/TwentyFour''. It's impossible for Jack to be happy. Any time it seems like he's going to get some sort of satisfaction, he gets screwed over. Here's a checklist of the biggest ones:
** Day 1: Jack has finally killed the mastermind who was threatening his family. He's captured the traitor at CTU that was aiding him, and has reunited with daughter Kim. Now he's found out where his wife was tied up in [[spoiler: and it turns out that said traitor also shot her before trying to escape.]]
** Day 5: With help from the First Lady, Jack is able to expose the corrupt President's actions, he's gotten back together with his girlfriend Audrey, and after seemingly burning bridges with him it seems like Kim has changed her mind and wants to mend things. [[spoiler: Except the message from Kim was actually a trap by the Chinese government who want revenge on him for his actions indirectly leading to the death of their Consul, and they successfully take him prisoner.]]
** Day 8: A three-way punch, one episode after another! First, it seems like he's going to successfully save President Hassan mere seconds before he's executed live on television. [[spoiler: The television feed was actually a recording and his throat was slit minutes ago.]] But on the bright side, at least Jack and former FBI agent Renee Walker finally got together [[spoiler: but then she was struck dead by a sniper's bullet after recognizing one of the killers involved.]] At the very least, he's discovered the identity of the real mastermind so he can go after that evil sonuvabitch and give him some much needed karma, right? [[spoiler: Only said mastermind happens to the head of the Russian government and President Taylor needs him to sign a peace treaty, so she decides to let him go free in turn for him signing it and Jack gets detained. After all that, it winds up being a bit too much for him, and he '''SNAPS'''.]]
In ''{{Mystery Science Theater 3000}}'' Mike and Pearl paly a game of "find the red card." If Pearl wins, he and the Bots watch ''two'' movies (which in retrospect, would've been an awesome episode); and if Mike wins, he gets to pick the film they watch. Mike wins, and he picks "the greatest drama ever written: ''{{Hamlet}}''." Pearls gives him Hamlet. The crappy mad-for-German-TV Hamlet.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' takes this to an artform, with tremendously horrible things lurking behind every victory and any attempt to correct any aspect of the CrapsackWorld doomed to [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption failure]]. [[TheEmpire The Imperium]] is even GenreSavvy about this, one of its many Thoughts For The Day being "Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment". It helps when the literal god of Hope is also the god of Manipulation.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' reminds Friend Gamemaster to let the players score some temporary victories along the way to their inevitable hosing.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}}'': the Dark Powers deliberately go out of their way to inflict this on those who have done unpleasant enough things to qualify as Darklords. As Lord Soth demonstrates, the way to get them to cut it out is simply to stop caring and/or undergo a HeelRealization and realize they reaped what they sowed. However, the kind of people who become darklords don't tend to be the kind of people who will ever learn their lesson. If they were they wouldn't have ended up as darklords in the first place.
* Kelemvor in ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms'' began as a mercenary who wanted to be a hero but literally couldn't act altruistically without tripping a family curse and turning into a werepanther, which complicated his growing relationship with his teammate Midnight. Then he was killed by ex-teammate Cyric... and ''then'' he ascended to become god of the dead in place of the despotic and now-divine Cyric, promising justice to the inhabitants of his realm. He also resumed his romance with Midnight, who'd become the new Mystra. Set up to be a hero after all, and on an epic scale, right?... And ''then'' it was revealed that a god of death who tried to do the right thing was disrupting the BalanceBetweenGoodAndEvil, and his switch to "neutrality" meant condemning another friend from his human life, handing over the Seraph of Death to Mask, breaking it off with Mystra (while Cyric literally drank their tears), and stuffing people back into the Wall of the Faithless.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* This happens to Biff in ''Theatre/DeathOfASalesman''.
* In ''Theatre/AStreetcarNamedDesire'', Mitch is Blanche's last chance for a normal life. Just when their relationship is going steady, Stanley intervenes, leading to Mitch denouncing Blanche.
* The ending of Williams's ''Theatre/TheGlassMenagerie'' is set-up deliberately melodramatically: the gentleman who visits the socially inept [[TheWoobie Laura]] turns out to be her secret crush. He dotes on her, dances with her, and his accidental breaking the horn of Laura's glass unicorn can be construed symbolically: he shatters Laura's self-imagined stigma, so that she can re-join the world, just like a hornless unicorn can mingle with other horses. But when one expects this little encounter to develop into something more substantial, it turns out the bloke is engaged.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In one of the endings of ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 3|AbsenceOfJustice}},'' [[spoiler:Almaz loses everything when Mao's father declares him the overlord.]]
* ''VideoGame/KaneAndLynch''. Poor Kane.
* Eggman in ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog''. Sure, he's an evil bastard, but he's tried so many times to establish his Eggman Empire, coming quite close more than a few times, when suddenly and quickly all his hard work is washed away. You start to feel sorry for the guy...
** There was that time in ''[[Videogame/SonicTheHedgehogTripleTrouble Triple Trouble]]'', in which Eggman finally gets all the Chaos Emeralds, only to have a machine blow and send the gems to the far corners of the Earth.
** Then in ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2'', Eggie gets all the Chaos Emeralds inserted into the Eclipse Cannon, causing him to think he's invincible and can do whatever he pleases. No. His granddaddy's secret planet-destroying program is initiated when he inserts the last emerald.
** Happens twice in ''VideoGame/SonicUnleashed''. Not only does Eggman beat Super Sonic and rid his GreenRocks of their invincibility-granting powers, but he manages to collect energy from Dark Gaia and finally builds his long-awaited Eggmanland. Unfortunately, his latest pet disobeys him (once again) and he ends up stranded in the desert with nothing but a back-sassing robot who maliciously reminds him of his constant failures.
** Also ''VideoGame/SonicRiders''. His plan manages to work, he gets the good guys to hand over a treasure (which he's expecting to be better than an angel wing that could rule the world) and it turns out to be a very soft carpet. He then faints and the good guys say what it really is (which still isn't as good as what he was expecting.).
** In ''VideoGame/SonicColors'', Eggman's plan and execution are reasonably professional and almost free of buffoonery. Sonic and Tails only show up by mistake and even then he is poised to activate his latest and greatest evil device. It promptly explodes because his dim-witted minions forgot to clear robotic debris from the first boss that lodged into part of it after Sonic defeated it. And this is after Eggman gives us one of the best boss fights in the series...
* Hey, [[VideoGame/{{Persona 3}} Shinjiro]]! It looks like things are looking up for you in ''[[UpdatedRerelease Persona 3 Portable]]''! Not only are you a Social Link character for a cute girl, but if she maxes out your link, [[spoiler:you survive TakingTheBullet! Sure, you fall into a coma for the rest of the game, but you wake up for the ending... just in time for said girl to die either right before you get there or in your arms. But hey, you're still probably gonna die from those drugs you were taking, so at least you get to meet up in the afterlife, right? Ehh, sorry! She's become the Great Seal for Eternity, so meeting up with her in the afterlife is... unlikely.]]
* Apparently, [[VideoGame/YggdraUnion Nessiah]] is just not allowed to be happy - he has ''one'' chance at it in VideoGame/BlazeUnion, and it's an extremely slim one. He's a main character in one of the three paths that story can take, but in it he gets the VillainBall ''hard''.
* Oh, Kei. Near the end of ''VideoGame/FatalFrame 3'', he reassures Rei that "there might still be some hope", as he thinks he's found out a way to potentially end the Tattoo Curse for good. [[spoiler: And then Reika kills him.]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}'', [=GLaDOS=] pulls several of these as a way to demonstrate just exactly how angry she is with Chell.
** In a CallBack to the first game, [=GLaDOS=] presents you with a Weighted CompanionCube in one of her test chambers. The instant you pick it up, she fizzles it. Then drops another, which she also fizzles after you start to solve the puzzle with it. Finally she lets you complete the test, only to mention offhandedly that the Emancipation Grill is malfunctioning and ''[[SchmuckBait not to take anything with you]]''. Sure enough, if you try to leave with the Companion Cube, she fizzles it yet again. Bad, bad [=GLaDOS=].
** At one point she offhandedly mentions having seen a deer outside. She offers, if you complete the next test, to let you ride an elevator up to the employee break room... where she'll tell you about the time she saw a deer again.
** After continuously teasing you about being adopted (yet another CallBack), [=GLaDOS=] promises a surprise in which you're going to "meet two people you haven't seen in a long, long time." Of course, it's a lie. Then later in that same test chamber, she promises to put them on the phone, but instead puts on a fake "prerecorded message" in which they claim not to love you. Yes, [=GLaDOS=], we get the point. You don't like Chell. Thank you for being so discreet about it.
** The last one is more noticeable for being subverted HypocriticalHumor. Later in the game, she contradicts [[spoiler:Wheatley]] when he tries to pull the same "adopted fatty" insults on Chell, creating an "awwwwwww" moment, but promptly yanks the rug out when she whispers to you, "For the record, you ARE adopted, AndThatsTerrible."
* ''VideoGame/ClockTower'' has the A Ending: you make it to the top of the clock tower, defeat the killer. Then, Ann or Laura ([[DoomedByCanon but never Lotte]]) will run out to Jennifer. [[spoiler:Then Mary appears and throws Ann/Laura off the ledge after her son.]] Poor Jennifer.
** She'll also get it pretty bad in the D Ending: after running around terrified for hours, Jennifer finally finds Ms Mary, and it told it'll all be fine. [[spoiler:Then Mary stabs her.]] Girl can't catch a break.
* ''VideoGame/HaloReach'' involves [[TheSquad Noble Team]] moving from battle to battle to repel [[AlienInvasion the Covenant]] and save the planet [[TitleDrop Reach]], humanity's most important extra-solar colony and the last bastion of might between the Covenant and Earth. They score victory after victory, sometimes [[HeroicSacrifice at great cost]], and sometimes it seems [[HopeSpot like they will even win this thing]]. [[DoomedByCanon They cannot]], and for every little victory they achieve the Covenant hits back twice as hard. Even {{Super Soldier}}s can only do so much...
* ''VideoGame/{{Antichamber}}'' starts you off in a room with a door marked "exit" behind glass. [[spoiler: You will actually get to the door several times during the game, but the first few times you are simply chided about being halfway there and things.]]
* In ''VideoGame/SheepDogNWolf'', Ralph the Wolf (the main protagonist), after who knows how long time of unsuccessfully trying to steal sheep from Sam the Sheepdog, suddenly gets sucked into a game show all about stealing sheep from Sam. He finally started being successful in this task, stole Sam's entire flock, became pretty much a television star, and after a long and tiring adventure [[spoiler:that included even a space trip]], he finally got himself his own sheep. [[spoiler:Just when you think he finally won, it all turns out to be just a dream. The expression he has when he goes back to unsuccessfully trying to steal sheep from Sam says it ''all''.]]
* Tends to happen in the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series, usually in the final trials.
** In Case 1-4, Phoenix manages to prove Edgeworth innocent of murder... only for [[spoiler:Edgeworth to confess to the murder of his father.]]
** In Case 2-4, the police are working tirelessly to [[spoiler:rescue Maya from Shelly de Killer]]. Mia manages to give Gumshoe some landmarks to look for, and they find the hide-out. [[spoiler:De Killer has already escaped, taking Maya with him.]]
** In Case 3-5, [[spoiler:Maya ultimately escapes being murdered by the ghost of her insane cousin, only to learn that her mother was killed in the process.]]
** In the fourth game, the flashback case to Phoenix's disbarment could count. He has to fly through the trial by the seat of his pants because he had no time to prepare, but he fortunately discovers a convenient piece of evidence that could just help get the trial postponed a day, so he could have time to investigate. The evidence was forged, and he loses his attorney's badge over it.
** In the fifth game, it looks like all hope is lost for Sol being found innocent, until Detective Fulbright finds a previously-overlooked piece of evidence. Phoenix eagerly builds his case on this evidence, insisting that a fingerprint analysis be done because a third party who he'd been arguing was the real killer might have left their prints on it. The good news? He's right, the evidence does prove a third person was there. The bad news? The prints belong to [[spoiler:Athena Cykes.]]
* Jackie Ma from ''VideoGame/SleepingDogs'' is buried alive in one mission but is rescued and appears to have gone through the worst the game can throw at him. He has some serious reconsideration about his choice to be a gangster and it looks like he's going to go clean by the end of the game. [[spoiler:The following mission sees him cut open like a fish, hung up in a back alley, and used as bait to bring Wei to "Big Smile" Lee.]]
* VideoGame/IHaveNoMouthAndIMustScream: The whole human race has been destroyed, except for five people have been kept alive and tortured by AM, a [[AIIsACrapshoot psychotic, all-powerful computer for 109 years.]] Any offers for suicide, food, shutting him down, etc. will be torn away by AM if attempted, [[WhoWantsToLiveForever since AM does not want to lose his toys.]] It becomes a plot point later on. [[spoiler: Ted was offered a chance to go to the surface world. If he succeeds, he will discover the Earth has been rendered an unlivable wasteland.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''{{WebComic/Drowtales}}'' had a side story where [[ButtMonkey Syphile]] met someone who respected her and tried to help her cope with and improve her life (albeit by drugging everyone), but you know it's going to end badly because [[ButtMonkey nothing ever works for her. Ever]]. Though the story was unfinished it was indicated that the guy died at some point, possibly by her hand. And then later she throws her lot in with the Sharen and has the opportunity to start her life over with a significant amount of money, but [[NiceJobBreakingItHero Chrys'tel]] suggests that Syphile prove herself and assassinate her adopted mother Quain'tana instead. In the end [[spoiler:the assassination attempt fails and Syphile dies]].
** This also happens to Ariel in the main story, where right after she gets acknowledged as Quain'tana's heir, which had been her only wish in life, her best friend Faen is forced to run away after she accidentally kills a teacher when her [[PowerIncontinence empathic powers go out of control]]. Any joy Ariel had over her new position is immediately quashed and she falls into a deep depression.
* Subverted in ''Webcomic/{{PvP}}'' when couch loafer Robbie wins the lottery - and ''never loses the money''. He even hires people to make sure he doesn't go broke.
* ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater''. After years and years of nothing but being screwed by the universe itself over and over again, Black Mage finally gets what he always wanted: He becomes an unstoppable mage of mass destruction, slaughtering almost everybody he knows (including the girl he has a crush on) in merely seconds... Only to have [[DeusExMachina Sar]][[AWizardDidIt da]] come pop in and bring everybody back to life.
** Done far, far earlier when he briefly became the overlord of hell, with all the power and cowering minions the title provides, only to be shoved back into his former body before he could destroy it.
* At the end of the Kamikaze Kate arc in ''WebComic/{{Misfile}}'', [[OurAngelsAreDifferent Rumisiel]] has successfully exorcised a very scary ghost and saved (at least) one soul from damnation and proven himself a {{Badass}}. Ash is ecstatic, this means he can get back to heaven and fix things. Except... heaven is full of {{Jerkass}}ess (and Rumi is such a screw up) that just one deed like that isn't even going to close to evening the score, so [[StatusQuoIsGod nothing changes]].
** Later, Rumi gets the news that Heaven is willing to give him a hearing about letting him back into heaven. The catch? The next available hearing is in [[spoiler:73 years. Ash doesn't take it well.]]
* Angus [=McLeod=]'s ''WorldWarOne: [[http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=§ion=&q=world+war+one#/d24ibfq Simple Version]]'' depicts 1917 as one of these for Germany.
--> '''Germany:''' Oh brothers, with Russia off my back, I have a chance of winning this war!\\
'''Newspaper Headline:''' United States Declares War On Germany.\\
'''Germany:''' [[OhCrap FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU]]--
* Patchy got hit with this hard in one of the arcs of ''Webcomic/LifeOfMaid''. After Patchy decides to get a new handheld, a Nintendo 3DS, she comes short of the money needed to buy it and decides to go to Remilia for money. But instead of simply giving her the money like in a previous arc, she puts Patchy to work around the mansion. After working her ass off, she finally gets her hands on it -- but just two strips later, she leaves the 3DS unattended to use the little girl's room, only to have it get [[spoiler:eaten by Yuyuko, who mistakes the chicken in the [[VideoGame/CookingMama "Cooking Papa"]] game she was playing for the real deal]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original]]
* Any time it looks like [[WebAnimation/HomestarRunner Coach Z]] might be catching a break, something needs to get in his way.
--> '''[[ButtMonkey Coach Z:]]''' Hey, thanks for the advice, Homestar! I'd love to come to your house for Decemberween!
--> '''Homestar:''' What? [[BigNo No, no-ho-ho!]] No, no, no. No, Coach Z, no. [[OverlyLongGag No.]] No, you can't.
* In a slightly less sympathetic use of the trope, WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick puts on some mood music when WebVideo/ToddInTheShadows finally agrees to sleep with her out of boredom. The "mood music" turns out to be "Reproduction" from ''Film/{{Grease 2}}'', and he runs off, much to her anger.
* WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic gets plenty of yanking, but the cruelest might have to be near the start of ''SimonSez''. When he complains to WebVideo/ObscurusLupa that he always gives in to people wanting to do a review with him, she says she won't push it and leaves. He's overjoyed that someone finally listened to him and he now has a new lease on life, but it turns out that [[spoiler: she was just trolling him.]]
* [[WebAnimation/PonyDotMov SHED.MOV]] opens with Apple Bloom ''finally'' getting her cutie mark... [[GiantFootOfStomping and is stomped on]] by [[AttackOfThe50FootWhatever Discord]] five seconds later.
* LetsPlay/MarioPartyTV:
** In Grand Canal, where the Flutter Orbs come fast and furious, Steeler gets his hands on one... only to find out he can't use it while Toadette's Triple Shroom is still in effect. And it doesn't expire until after the last turn of the game.
** In 3's Creepy Cavern, after a series of unfortunate events, Steeler gets a big break via Chance Time... but while he's celebrating, he accidently hits the TV, ending the game.
** During the 8-Player match on Bowser's Enchanted Inferno, after a star gets bought, it moves right in front of Team Mollusk... only for the team who just bought the star to land on a Happening Space that changes its location.
* HappyTreeFriends does this a lot. Perhaps the most notable example: At the end of a multi-part episode about Flippy getting some much-needed therapy, a light bulb suddenly breaks, and he ''doesn't'' turn AxeCrazy like he usually does when startled. It looks as though the therapy helped, and he walks happily out into the street, where he promptly is hit by a truck. And thanks to NegativeContinuity, he [[TheyKilledKennyAgain reappears]] in later episodes as [[SplitPersonality schizophrenic]] as ever.
* ''WebVideo/MedukaMeguca'': This happens to Kyoko a lot, in respect to her (much awaited from her perspective) introduction. The most notable case is when they get to her ''real'' introduction scene in episode 4... only for the network to go down with technical difficulties.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Fry on ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', when he loses all his wealth to Mom. Also when he finally discovers the thing he did to make Leela fall in love with him, only for it to immediately be destroyed.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''
** [[Recap/TheSimpsonsS8E23HomersEnemy Frank Grimes]]. Mr. Burns sees a documentary about how Grimes went through a hard life and had recently earned a diploma in nuclear physics. Impressed, he tells Mr. Smithers to find him so he can make him his executive vice president. By the time Smithers returns with Grimes, however, Burns had seen a heroic dog on TV and now wants to make ''him'' executive vice president.
--->'''Smithers:''' In the meantime, here's Frank Grimes.\\
''(Burns does not recognize Grimes)''\\
'''Smithers:''' The, the self-made man?\\
'''Burns:''' What? Oh, yes, that fellow. Mmmm, put him somewhere out of the way, and find that dog!\\
'''Smithers:''' [[YesMan Yes sir.]]
* Done very cruelly in the final episode of ''WesternAnimation/CampLazlo'', when Lumpus has finally gotten praise and respect, when a DiabolusExMachina undoes it all, and to rub salt into the wound, [[spoiler:it turns out he was a fake who locked up the real scoutmaster and gets dragged off to an asylum]].
* The kids in ''WesternAnimation/DungeonsAndDragons'' spend every episode on the trail of some new possible way back to their own world. Not one of these leads ever works out, either because the route simply wouldn't work or because the kids are obliged to give up the chance in order to help others.
** [[spoiler:Averted (sorta) in the MissingEpisode. The kids are outright told by the Dungeon Master that they've done what he brought them here to do and that they can go home now if they want, but we don't see whether or not they do.]]
* Same in ''WesternAnimation/{{Jumanji}}''. [[spoiler:Averted in the finale: Allen got his clue, solved it and got home legitimately with the kids.]]
** The final episode played it straight at the same time. Allen's challenge [[spoiler: was to remove the thorn from the paw of a lion he met the second he was first transported into the game.]]. Allen stunned, figures he could have left the game the second he came in all those years ago if he hadn't ran away.
* ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' has made viewers come to expect him to fail when attempting either of his two stated goals: going back in time, and destroying Aku. In a strange combination, either he fails to go back in time because HonorBeforeReason dictates that he never leaves those in danger to harm to go back in time, or Aku tricks him into a MacguffinDeliveryService. Aku himself is practically unkillable as well, despite Jack beating him to a paste several times.
** There are basically only three different episodes of ''Samurai Jack'': "Aku sends a new mercenary to stop Jack", "Jack frees innocents from the grip of Aku" and "Jack almost finds a portal but loses it to Aku who was disguised in an obvious costume." Once you've seen those, you've seen the whole series and you can walk away to stop getting your chain yanked. That said, the "filler" episodes like the one he goes "down the rabbit hole" and "learns to jump good" are a lot of fun, perhaps because in those he's not constrained to fail tragically.
*** Subverted in one episode, in which Jack appears to, yet again, suffer defeat when attempting to access an appropriate time portal, only for the episode to end showing an older Jack on the other side of the portal, and the implicit assertion by the portal's guardian that he will, eventually, pass through.
* There have been a few times where Bill Dauterive from ''WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill'' has started a relationship or found acceptance with an outside group, but every single time it happens, something comes up to ruin it for him.
** The last relationship he gets involved in turns into a case of him yanking his own chain, since he begins dating Reverend Stroup and both seem infatuated with each other, but he rejects her after she steps down as pastor of Arlen Methodist just to be with him, since he preferred the ForbiddenFruit aspect of their affair. It's almost like the writers did this just so we wouldn't feel sorry for Bill anymore when he gripes about his loneliness, since from that point forward it's clear he brought it on himself by being a selfish asshole.
* Squidward from ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants''. Sure he's [[SmallNameBigEgo an egomaniac]] and a jerk, but [[JerkassWoobie you kinda feel sorry for him]] [[ButtMonkey after a while.]]
** In "Bubble Stand" he briefly learns how to play the clarinet well after using [=SpongeBob=]'s technique to blow a giant bubble... until his house gets sucked inside said giant bubble, and it loudly pops, apparently destroying his clarinet skills.
*** It's implied that his skills at the clarinet are tied to his sense of self worth. When he's feeling good about himself, he plays better. When he's aggravated or depressed, his skill plummets, which just makes it all the sadder seeing how down he is all the time.
** In "Squilliam Returns" he briefly impresses Squilliam when Spongebob disguises the Krusty Krab as a fancy restaurant... until [=SpongeBob=] goes crazy due to Squidward's earlier ExactWords on forgetting everything that isn't about fine dining, including his name, and destroys everything.
** Screw any Squidward example: the single biggest moment goes to Plankton in the episode "Plankton's Regular": the episode starts with a man that regularly eats in the Chum Bucket and refuses to even eat a single Krabby Patty. Spongebob and Krabs try everything to steal said customer from Plankton, to the point of trying to steal Plankton's recipe for chum. However, at the end of the episode, it's revealed that said customer was paid by Karen to eat in the Chum Bucket so Plankton would stop complaining about his lack of success, but he couldn't eat more chum anymore, regardless of the money (they already pumped his stomach many times). Plankton is left in tears while Spongebob and Krabs laugh at his misery. Note that, even having only one customer, Plankton immediately stopped trying to steal the Krabby Patty formula.
** Spongebob himself is often the victim of this trope as well, usually in episodes focused on trying to get his boating license. It seems that he ''finally'' is going to get it...[[DiabolusExMachina but something random will always happen to prevent Spongebob to pass the exam.]]
** Plankton fits quite well here, but he kinda deserves it.
** In the beginning of "Frankendoodle", a live-action artist at sea accidentally drops his only pencil into the ocean, and goes into a depression because now he can't draw. At the end, he gets his pencil back, begins to draw... and breaks the tip on the canvas, not having a pencil sharpener. The episode ends with his anguished screams.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan,'' it really looks like Peter is the only superhero around, though naturally he's outnumbered by {{supervillain}}s. One can hope that the supervillains are all local. So when J. Jonah Jameson's astronaut son and all-around decent guy gets superpowers and is willing to help, wouldn't it seem like [[BigApplesauce the Big Apple]] finally gets another hero? No, because WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity. Looks like the best Spidey can hope for are supervillains who aren't [[FriendlyEnemy quite]] [[EvenEvilHasStandards evil]] and won't stay local, like Black Cat, Sandman, and Molten Man.
* ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb''
** [[HarmlessVillain Dr. Doofenshmirtz]] ''finally'' finds a nice evil girlfriend. They hit it off, FallingInLoveMontage and all -- and then in the last five seconds of the episode, [[HoistByHisOwnPetard the love-destroying satellite he built earlier]] crashes and zaps her, causing her to storm away with a declaration of "I feel NOTHING!"
** Then there's poor Candace. OncePerEpisode she'll have solid proof of her brothers' schemes (which actually shares fun and joy to the neighborhood more than it harms), only to find that it's vanished or ruined when she shows her mother. Other times, any special moment with Jeremy will be interrupted by something (possibly just by Candace herself), and any attempt to impress him will backfire in a humiliating fashion.
*** Then again, Jeremy seems to be as mellow and kind to Candace when she's disheveled with branches in her hair as any other time. Candace ''fears'' being humiliated in front of him, but he's so much of a legitimately NiceGuy that it may be impossible. You could say Jeremy is the personification of ThrowTheDogABone.
** Happens at the end of "My Fair Goalie" to Football X-7 creator Professor Ross Efrop, who was forced into hiding when it was discovered his name was a palindrome, as the British at the time were very anti-palindrome. He is about to come back out when he's still shunned for his name being a palindrome.
** Anytime when it looks like Isabella is going to a romantic moment with just Phineas, something happens to ruin that moment. Notable examples include "Summer Belongs to You" and "Canderemy".
* Happens repeatedly on ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'' to almost everyone. One instance is when Timmy had finally undone all of [[JackassGenie Norm's]] tricks, [[AlphaBitch Trixie]], who had been brainwashed to fall in love with several Timmy Turners, has finally showed up, deciding to give "the biggest, wettest kiss" to Timmy... only to have it wear off then.
* The ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'' episode "Dib's Wonderful Life of Doom" has Dib finally achieve everything he wanted, including respect and acclaim, after being TouchedByVorlons, only for it all to be a fantasy created by Zim's LotusEaterMachine. To get back at him for throwing a muffin in his face, no less...
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy''
** The B-plot in the episode "[[Recap/FamilyGuyS5E9RoadToRupert Road to Rupert]]" has Peter and Meg bonding after Meg becomes Peter's chauffeur when Peter's license gets suspended. Peter, of course, goes back to his abusive ways after he gets his license back. Played so straight that [[spoiler:Peter tells Meg that he's going back to tormenting her to keep up appearances in front of the family. Meg is actually okay with this after Peter splashes a glass of juice at her, as if this is the closest thing to love that she can ever expect out of these people.]]
** In the episode "Peter's Daughter", Peter vows to treat Meg better if she wakes up from a coma, which she's in because he made her go into the kitchen to save his beer when the house flooded. Meg gets a sweet, affectionate, (over-)protective father, as well as a boyfriend, because she starts dating a med student who was there when she woke up. Then Peter accidentally ruins her relationship ... then she finds out she's pregnant ... But then Michael (her boyfriend) proposes to her, saying he loves her and wants to be there for her. [[ShotGunWedding Ignoring the fact that her dad was there with a rifle]]. So Meg's going to get married ... [[spoiler:except on the day of the wedding, she realizes she isn't pregnant, and isn't sure she can go through with it. Her mother tells her to do what she thinks is right, ("Thanks, Mom. I love you." "I, uh, you too.") and Meg tells Michael the truth when she gets to the altar, prompting him to run out of the church.]]
** Meg gets her chain yanked again in ''[[Recap/FamilyGuyS11E7FriendsWithoutBenefits Friends Without Benefits]]" where a boy she likes agrees to hang out with her, only to reveal afterwards that not only he is gay, but he is also in love with Meg's brother, Chris. [[TheWoobie Meg did not take this well.]]
** Meg in general was made to exploit the trope 100%. Any form of happiness Meg finds will be quickly taken away from her.
* This is pretty much standard for the [[BlackAndNerdy nerdy]] ButtMonkey Tucker from ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom''. He usually ends up getting the short end of the stick either through his numerous failures to pick up girls or constantly getting the most emotional/physical abuse due to his comic relief character setting. The best shown is "King Tuck" where he [[DorkhorseCandidate runs for school president]] in order to get some respect from others--including his friends. After Danny and Sam get AnAesop that they should listen to Tucker once in a while, they promptly, ''in seconds'', ignore it and walk off when Tucker rambles about his interests. Worse, for no reason other then to play up his ButtMonkey status, the writer gets two popular girls to chase after him with intent to do some bodily harm. Poor guy can't catch a break.
* ''WesternAnimation/KaBlam!''
** This often happens to Henry. In the episode "Won't Stick to Most Dental Work!", he gets tired of being the ButtMonkey and quits the show. After the first sketch, he opens his own restaurant, and then quits after seeing how heartbroken June was.
** Also in "You May Already Be A [=KaBlammer=]!", he's upset over the fact that no one finds him funny, so June tells him that she'll be his sidekick as long as he's hers.
** And since he's famous for falling in love, only to be rejected, he gets his happy ending in episode 29, which was the so-called "last episode" (they ended up making a lot more, and some didn't get to air due to the cancellation), when a girl gives him a kiss: June.
* Epically subverted in the ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'' episode "Fistfuls of Ed". After Edd being falsely accused of being a bully and subsequently ostracized by the entire school, and then [[NoHoldsBarredBeatdown beaten to a pulp]] by [[WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds Jimmy]]. Things are looking up for Edd near the end, but then we smash suddenly in to a typical episode ending where the [[AbhorrentAdmirer Kanker Sisters]] pop out of the woodwork to set in with their usual "[[RapeIsLove treatment]]" of the already pathetically tired and beaten-down Double Dee. Eddy, who has as usual been the main source of conflict in the episode, watches in disgust before giving the Kanker Sisters the most singularly awesome chew-out they ever get in the series. As they slink away in terror, he breaks up the lingering awkwardness by giving everyone hotdogs. Double Dee even Lampshades this trope.
-->'''Edd:''' I'm touched! That you would interrupt a cliché plot ending for my sake!
** Eddy is ALWAYS a victim of this when it comes to his scams, even though he does deserve it sometimes.
* After being tortured, mutilated, and reduced to a BrainInAJar throughout the first three seasons of ''{{WesternAnimation/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|2003}}'' (2003), Baxter Stockman finally regains a whole, human body in the episode "Insane in the Membrane". Unfortunately, it's not long before Stockman's new body begins breaking down, and the doctor begins losing limbs. Worse still, he begins losing the one thing he'd managed to keep throughout his tribulations: his mind.
** It gets worse for him in "Good Genes, Part 1." Bishop effectively brings him BackFromTheDead in a pseudo-body to continue their work. Stockman laments this development because he thought that he had finally found peace following his previous appearance.
* Near the end of season 2 of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'': The ObstructiveBureaucrat who ran the Earth Kingdom's secret police has been arrested! The real leader has promised them support against the Fire Nation! Sokka's finally seeing his dad after two years, and his girlfriend's in town! Toph's mom wants to reconcile with her! Aang is going to train to master the Avatar state!... Wait, there's still two episodes left. And as soon as Sokka says "[[TemptingFate Everything's gonna be perfect, now and forever]]," you know something's gonna happen. Sure enough, before ''this'' episode is even out: the secret police are still loyal to the man they "arrested"; Toph was tricked and captured by bounty hunters hired to drag her home; and it's not Sokka's girlfriend that's in town, it's TheDragon in disguise -- and the king, not knowing better, welcomes her with open arms. And in those next two episodes, things get worse.
* ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'''s [[UnluckyEverydude Ron Stoppable]] never seemed to come out on top in the first three seasons. At the most extreme levels of yankage he somehow managed to get all of his 99 million dollars he got from Bueno Nacho stolen by [[IdiotBall keeping it all]] [[TookALevelInDumbass in his pants]], leaving him with nothing [[FridgeLogic (though most can't figure out what happened with the continued royalties after that payment)]]. [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain Drakken]] also has his leash [[KickTheDog yanked]] a few times more than comfortable.
* The ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown'' episode "Omitown" had Omi thinking he found his long-lost parents, only to learn at the end that they were fakes created by the show's BigBad.
* Similar to the ''WesternAnimation/DungeonsAndDragons'' and ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' examples above are the main characters in 80s music cartoon ''WesternAnimation/KiddVideo''.
** Particularly noteworthy example: As a reward for saving one of its citizens, a small village gives Whiz one free wish from the local Wish Genie. However, when about to make the wish, Whiz learns that the others are endangered, and he quickly wishes them to be "safe at home". The Genie, being a RulesLawyer-ing LiteralGenie, grants only the first ''half'' of the wish, reasoning that "being 'safe' and being 'at home' are '''two''' separate wishes."
* While the ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' [[http://www.vimeo.com/11486841 TV short]] based on the reality series ''I Shouldn't Be Alive'' is mainly based on footage of the original ''WesternAnimation/WileECoyoteAndTheRoadRunner'' shorts, there is one notable scene of original animation at the end: Wile E. Coyote finally manages catch the Road Runner (simply by pouring birdseed and leaping onto him while he was eating), [[spoiler:but he turns out to be so weak from not eating he couldn't even choke the Road Runner]].
* This ALWAYS happens to Brandy in ''WesternAnimation/BrandyAndMrWhiskers'' when she is about to make it home.
* Steve in ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' always gets this when it comes to trying to pursue relationships. The most brutal example is a Halloween episode, "Best Little Horror House in Langley Falls", where he takes out his friend's sister for a trick or treating and both are forced to go on the run when he goes over the time limit to bring her home and Toshi tries to hunt them down and kill Steve (Yes he's ''that'' overprotective). Through the chase it seems the two are developing feelings for one another. But at the end, when they finally convince Toshi to back off. His sister's proclaims she has a boyfriend, a ''nine year old'' boyfriend. Just...wow, your can really feel the cruelty of the writers there.
* Happens to Mina at the end of the ''WesternAnimation/{{Grojband}}'' episode "A Knight to Remember" as Trina chases her down after she becomes Trina's slave after they both regain their respective personalities.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Paraguay. When they tought that it would be a south american powerhouse, England decide to make Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to ally themselves to curbstomp Paraguay. Well, the war is over and everything will be ok, right? Yeah, no. The Alliance totally destroyed the potential of Paraguay becoming a powerfull country.
* After four, terrible years and thirteen millions of people dead, they called UsefulNotes/WorldWarI the "War to End All Wars," meaning that after this kind of war humanity would finally throw away their warlike nature and world peace now would come and expand. [[FromBadToWorse If they only knew]]...
** They also wanted to see the end of death and misery. Well, the Spanish flu and the Great Depression got in the way of that...
** Speaking of WWI--Mustard gas. It might splash undetected as a liquid onto a soldier's skin or clothes and then when they went down into the trenches where it was warmer the liquid would heat up into a corrosive gas. So just when you think you're safe, you've escaped the fighting with your life you discover you and all your buddies are gonna die...
* UsefulNotes/{{Ireland}}. After centuries of being oppressed, they gain independence, and experience a massive economic boom, leading to them become one of the most developed countries in the world. Then when the recession hit, they became the most indebted country per capita in the world.
** In a similar case was the Philippines in the 1970s it was one of the fastest growing economies in Asia second only to Japan, then when the Marcos administration took over it all spiraled downward.
* In 1917, the working class of Russia overthrew the corrupt government of the tsar and the nobles and replaced their rule with that of a working class government, with UsefulNotes/VladimirLenin chosen as the leader. Lenin's changes for Russia, though well-intended, only made things worse. 1924, Lenin died by illness and the new leader who took over was named UsefulNotes/JosefStalin...
* UsefulNotes/{{Baseball}}
** The Pittsburgh Pirates. After having 18 straight losing seasons and a winning record, a bad call caused them to lose in extra innings and the wheels fell off from there. The following season, they were once 16 games over 500 but a stretch of games against the rival Milwaukee Brewers caused them to have another losing season. The next season, they finally broke their then-20-season-long streak of seasons with a losing record, made the division series, and even got a 2 games to 1 lead in the best-of-five series with the Cardinals, with game 4 at home...only to lose the next 2 games and get knocked out of the playoffs.
** Hell, the Chicago Cubs have got to be an ultimate example. As of this edit, they haven't won a championship in ''105 years''. Most infamously, a fan named Steve Bartman's accidental deflection of a ball he was trying to catch was blamed for the team's playoff loss in 2003, sending the beleaguered fanbase into paroxysms of rage.
** The Boston Red Sox were one out (and then one ''strike'') away from winning Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and capturing their first championship since 1918. But several at-bats and [[NeverLiveItDown/RealLife one Bill Buckner error later]], they'd lost the game...and the following night they lost Game 7, ensuring their drought would continue for another 18 years.
* In the NHL, the Toronto Maple Leafs are notorious for once being a formidable team unable to win the cup since ''1967'', and the last two (yes, only two) times they've made the playoffs ('04 and '13), ''they get locked out in the '''first round'''''. And like their loss in 2004, they lose in overtime, but in the case of 2013 it was during Game 7 that they nearly won... had their opponents not deliberately exploited their [[FatalFlaw weakness]]: panicking when under a state of duress near the end of the game.
[[/folder]]

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